President Nate Dunham called the meeting to order. Mike Loudon led the invocation, pledge, and Four-Way Test.
Andrew Troller handled the introduction of guests and visiting Rotarians. Kristen Heacock was a guest of Michael Huff. Kyle Cox was again a guest of Linda Jezard, and our old friend Kyle Vreeland was a guest of Tom Conger.
Happy Dollars were collected by Coady Cheek, and it was a happy, happy group! Mike Loudon was happy that his granddaughter who has kidney issues is getting a transplant. Tom Conger was happy to make his contribution to Know and Grow. Mark Scolnick was looking forward to the District Gala. Linda Bagley Wiggs is happy to be a great-grandmother. Don Selvage was happy to remind everyone about events upcoming in honor of veterans. Jim Russell was happy to announce Salvation Army bell ringing dates, and the STARS class was happy for the very special graduation party they enjoyed with the past presidents. Stacy Campbell Domineck was just happy that she didn't have to do the prayer that day!
Mark Davies then led us in singing Home on the Range.
For announcements, Gary Clark noted that in addition to the traditional Rotary events in honor of veterans that are coming up this week, Keiser University is having an event on the 9th and Southeastern University is having an event on the 11th. He also encouraged everyone to attend next week's meeting to hear Phil Mowry talk about the history of the American Legion. President Nate gave a reminder about additional Know and Grow sessions coming up this week that could use a handful of more volunteers, and announced that we will once again have a Christmas parade party at Hugh Turbeville's place. Check the website for more details.
President Nate then inducted two new members: Lydia Boyd, sponsored by Carol Wallace, and Michelle Emerson Lewis, sponsored by Irma Cole. Welcome to both!
Rick Maxey introduced the speaker, Richard Wilder. Mr. Wilder is a veteran of the Vietnam conflict, a cancer survivor, and a mentor for the Tenth Judicial Circuit veteran's court in addition to running a not-for-profit equine therapy center for veterans. He gave an engaging talk about the history of black men and women in the United States Army, particularly the regiments known as the Buffalo Soldiers. He spoke of how black men were initially only permitted to be in the Army as laborers, being paid half as much as their white counterparts but getting opportunities to learn how to read and write. Within just a few years and after valiantly fighting in the Civil War, the Army reorganized and created new all-black regiments that allowed black soldiers to be in cavalry and infantry roles. This reorganization was also the first time black persons were allowed to be part of a peace-time army. Because some people east of the Mississippi were not comfortable with the idea of armed black men, these newly minted all-black regiments were sent to fight indigenous people in the west. It was the indigenous people who coined the nickname "Buffalo Soldiers" for these army regiments.
President Nate then ended with his dad joke of the week: "How can you tell the gender of an ant? Put it in water. If it sinks, it is a girl ant. If it floats, it is a boy-ant."
Our next program will feature Phil Mowry giving a history of the American Legion.