Maj. Gen. Joe M. Wells was the guest speaker at the banquet held at the Rome Civic Center on Saturday in a night full of spiritual singing and inspiring words from both Wells and local leaders.
The theme was “The Struggle Continues” and Wells shared with those in at-
tendance some of his early struggles as he rose through the ranks of the National Guard.
“I was told the best I could hope for was major,” Wells said.
But he rose through the ranks since he was commissioned in the Georgia Army National Guard in 1982. He joined the Army after graduating from East Rome High School in 1985.
Wells also told of how Romans helped him.
Willie Mae Samuel, a retired English teacher from East Rome High School, helped him overcome a speech impediment.
“It allowed me to go where I am today,” Wells said.
Former state Rep. Buddy Childers integrated local baseball teams, inspiring Wells to play semi-professional baseball until a knee injury took him out of the game.
During the meeting, two volunteers were honored for their service to the organization and the community.
Rev. Nim Russell, pastor of Thankful Baptist Church, was honored for the many programs he started since coming to Rome
in 1991 and most recently for feeding 100 people a hot meal after the February tornado.
Also honored was Evelyn Hamilton, who was one of the first black students at Berry College and volunteers with several local groups including the AARP, Habitat for Humanity, the MLK Commission and the Main High School Reunion Committee.
Closing out the meeting, NAACP president Michael Lee reminded the group “the struggle is always going to continue until we do something about it.”
“The reason we are so far behind as a race is because we don’t come together,” Lee said. “If you want to make a change, you have to come together.”