I certainly agree with the definition of a city as it’s explained on Jake’s site. But I sometimes look at cities — and nations — from another perspective. I like to concentrate on the ‘heart’ of a city — and that’s its people. So this week, I’m taking Jake’s challenge in that direction and offering a slide show that tells the story of the heart of my city: Herrin, Illinois, U. S. A.
Herrin is a small city, a little over 100 years old. We have a population of a little under 12,000, made up of people whose roots can be found in nations all around the world. Even though we are small, we are very aware of the diverse cultures inherent in our citizens, and we embrace that cultural variety with honor and affection
One of the most significant events in which we interact takes place every year on Thanksgiving Day. The city of Herrin has a huge community Thanksgiving Dinner — free to everyone who would like to participate — at our city civic center. It is not a meal prepared only for poor or indigent people — although most assuredly they are welcomed and appreciated. But this meal is for the entire citizenry of the city — as well as any surrounding neighbors who would like to be involved. (And there are usually scores of those as well.)
A small group of about three people take the responsibility of organizing the event and bringing all the various organizations and individuals together each year to carry on the work of providing the food, the decorations, the entertainment, and the atmosphere. Numerous civic organizations, churches, businesses, families, and individuals invest their time, energy, money, and resources so that everyone in our city can share their hearts on this day that we in the U. S. set aside to express our gratitude for God’s blessings.
Many people have personal family events that take place that day, of course, so obviously not everyone in the city can take part freely. But a large number of people do participate in the meal. Last year alone, the team cooked and served 56 turkeys (1127 pounds), along with mountains of dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, salad, pie, ice cream, and fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies.
Most of the people come to the civic center and eat — where they are also entertained with live music, activities for the children, and sometimes large screen TV’s for the sports fans. People can also come to get carry-out meals. In addition, we have a team of people who take meals to home-bound residents, on-duty firemen and police officers, and to other citizens who have to work on Thanksgiving Day.
Everyone who comes enjoys the experience immensely. As a newspaper reporter for many years, I have had the privilege of interviewing hundreds of the people who come to eat and visit, as well as those who volunteer to do the actual work. Every single person I have interviewed has been lavish in his praise of the event and in his gratitude for how much joy he received personally by taking part in it.
So I’m offering this little slide show of photos that will give you an idea of some of the preparation activities as well as the big dinner itself. These photos give a small peek into the heart of my city, and I hope you enjoy them.
To take part in Jake’s challenge, hop over to his site at this link: