Finding the diamonds in the rough

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Friday, I told a friend of mine I was going to meet Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise that evening.
After he expressed his profound jealousy, he told me to “enjoy my brush with history.”
At that moment, I knew he was right. Even though I’m not a serious space fanatic, I realized the importance of the man I was about to meet.
Had it not been for an explosion, Haise and his crew might have landed on the moon.
As I thought back over the week, I realized I had two interactions with me who were a part of history.
Thursday, I interviewed WWII veteran Clayton Diggs and his wife Lillian. Not only did he survive one of the nation’s most intense conflicts, he and his wife have been married for 72 years, an amazing feat to say the least.
The hour I spent with Diggs, was a time I won’t forget. His memories of the war are very vivid for a 93-year-old, as are the memories of the first moments he saw his bride-to-be and swept her off her feet.
His attentiveness to his wife was evident and I jokingly told him he could teach my husband a few things.
The few moments I was able to spend with Haise, I learned he had originally wanted to be a journalist but the call of the space program proved stronger.
Haise is a cordial man, possessing a wealth of knowledge. I listened in awe to his description of the space flight.
I feel so blessed to be able to meet interesting people during the course of this career from this county.
Their first-hand accounts of events that happened before I was born are inspiring and I am always so humbled when they open up to me.
I often wonder how many of these diamonds in the rough existed during my childhood spent in Hancock County. Maybe I should have spent more time seeking them out.
I intend to complete that task now, here in Pearl River County, by finding as many of these unique individuals who experienced historic events and telling their story before it’s too late.

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