How Fortunate We Are
George W. Wireman died last week. He was known as the train man, and so much more. He was a polio survivor, rejected by the Army because of his deformed feet and legs, who walked and hiked everywhere, and visited all 50 states, including Hawaii four times – and he never had a driver’s license.
He was a radio personality and a patriot. He was the historian of Thurmont, and a loving grandfather. He touched my heart deeply when he welcomed my little grandson and me into his home to see his train layout. We encountered him again, too, during a ride on the Walkersville Southern Railway, where he was chief conductor.
Last Saturday I attended Mr. Wireman’s memorial service. It was held at Catoctin High School, “Home of the Fighting Cougars.” There was a good turnout in the auditorium. There was a color guard. The community contributed to setting it up, and, young and old, turned out for this very special 91 year old.
Last week marked another death as well, that of Army Specialist Ronald H. Wildrick, Jr. For this young father and patriot, the community also turned out, standing three times in the cold in Woodsboro as his body was moved from place to place for his memorial service and burial. That, thanks to the incredible work of people like Debbie Williams, and WFMD radio hosts Bob Miller and Blaine Young, and many others, is how our community is.
Every time a serviceman in our county gives his life in our service, the community stands for him, rain or shine.
At Christmas, we, thanks to Mr. Miller, Mr. Young and so many others, buy Christmas gifts for our needy children, raising and spending more than $150,000 per year on them through the Christmas Cash for Kids campaign.
We, here in Frederick County, have the benefit of the Community Foundation, managed by Betsy Day, which last year commissioned a study involving most local charities, to determine where the greatest needs are in our community, thus targeting our giving to the areas of greatest need, and avoiding duplication or waste.
We have the Women’s Giving Circle of the Community Foundation, thanks to Karlys Kline and many generous members, who contribute to the empowerment of women so that they can become independent and take care of their families.
We have the Religious Coalition for Human Needs, and the Alan P. Linton Cold Weather Shelter.
We have, thanks again to Debbie Williams, the Patty Pollatos Fund, providing all types of assistance to many people in our area.
Here in our community, when uninsured working people are discharged from the Frederick Memorial Hospital Emergency Department, they are referred to another volunteer organization, Mission of Mercy, which offers free medical and dental care, including free prescription medicine. It’s their way of providing love and respect to their clients, something often lacking in their lives.
Here in Frederick, when the soup kitchen reports a lack of meat, hunters go out and harvest deer, which are then processed free by local butcher shops.
In the 2010 election, we elected an almost completely new Board of County Commissioners, with a mandate to make us financially sound. Thanks to them and their sacrifices, we have a balanced budget – even a surplus.
It is a privilege to live in such a place as Frederick. Private giving and care for our community members is how life is here. It’s personal; it’s caring; and it’s effective, focused on actual needs. The federal government can’t possibly do this kind of thing, no matter how much it spends. The federal government isn’t here. The federal government doesn’t know us.
We have old fashioned ways here – in the county at least. There are fire company and church dinners, bull roasts and barbecues, and The Great Frederick Fair, a definite fall highlight, and a big opportunity for kids to grow in their knowledge of agriculture.
Here, you can get to know the mayor, other local elected officials and radio personalities. You can just walk up and say what’s on your mind, and actually be heard. You can have an impact.
One gets used to living here, and to being able to hear the tractor pull at the Great Frederick Fair from your back porch downtown. But it’s really special. As a person who grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D. C., I don‘t take it for granted.
This is the kind of community political conservatives dream of when they seek small government – a place where people take care of each other.
I’m grateful to be here.