What is the difference? State trooper or angel?

Published 11:01 pm Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dear editor,

Occasionally, I hear fellow citizens complain about paying taxes. Believe me, I understand. It is a struggle for my wife and me to pay quarterly self-employed income taxes like other taxpayers.

However, I was not complaining this past Friday, Oct. 2. My wife and I were on U.S. 80 en route to Jackson, Miss. to exchange vehicles with our youngest son. Three miles east of Cuba, we approached two bridges in rapid succession. Just as we neared the entrance of the first one, we saw a huge piece of steel which, we assume, had fallen off a traveling vehicle. With the side of the bridge on our right and oncoming traffic on our left, we had no choice but to run into the obstacle before us. The front end of our S.U.V. flew up and was knocked out of alignment. Our left rear tire was badly punctured. Our prayers went up: “God, help us!” My wife bravely kept her composure behind the wheel as she swerved across both bridges and beyond, and we were finally able to stop. While most prayers, in our experience, are not answered immediately, that one surely was.

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A second prayer was also quickly answered. U.S. 80 is heavily traveled and the highway shoulders at mile marker #3 are almost non-existent and steep. Again, I petitioned God for help. Meanwhile, my cell phone had service, and I called 9-1-1. I identified myself when I connected with the dispatcher, told her what had happened, mentioned I recently had major back surgery, and that we needed help changing our tire. She replied that she would call a state trooper.

Five minutes later, Lt. Sylvester Martin from Valley Grande was returning from a promotion board meeting he had attended in Madison, Miss. He had heard no report from the dispatcher. Lt. Martin, who was very professional, helpful, and kind, simply saw that we were in distress and that I bore a back-brace. It did not matter that he was wearing a neatly-pressed uniform which he soon soiled by getting on his hands and knees. The trooper produced his $30 Wal-Mart tire-wrench connected to our cigarette lighter, and quickly and pleasantly went to work.

When he finished, we gladly thanked him. We told him we thought he “was an angel!” As we did, we heard and saw another car have a blowout and pull over, presumably from the same steel we struck, and he was on his way to check on them.

Money is tight for my family and me as it is for so many others. However, I will remember Lt. Martin when we pay taxes next quarter. I will not do so as grudgingly. Actually, I think I will take that occasion and future ones to thank God for the kind and helpful trooper, and other law enforcement officers like him. Even with taxes, aren’t we blessed many times over to be Americans?


Rev. Dr. Ron Stone