By Rev. James
This is the last installment of “In Memoriam,” a poetic tribute to Alma Martin, noted Opelika educator, by one of her students, Dr. James Langley. Do you have a favorite teacher who made a great impact on your life? Let us hear from you. A letter, a story, a poetic tribute? However you want to remember him or her. We’ll be glad to print it if you’ll let us.
Man’s Struggles and Advances
‘Tis the part of wisdom to learn from all,
The failed attempts as from the enduring,
Assessing villainy may lead to maturing,
Seeing good and evil can make us wiser withal.
To enter the future without knowing the past
Invites a tomorrow of failure and regret,
When science may pervert a misguided reset,
Bringing a time more sinister than the last.
Falsehoods and truth-shading often win the day,
While truth must fight to gain a hearing,
Yet truth, leading to ways the evil are fearing,
And grace, are the bread and wine for our common clay.
Where any seek refuge from the killing fields,
From rampant hunger and the scourge of disease,
Blessed are they who move mountains to ease
Such trauma; care may save, shared spirit anneals.
Raise up a standard worthy of the highest,
The aims which test the spirit and the mind
To rise above the old limits of humankind
And summon to lead the best and brightest.
Let banners in tribute be lifted high
For mentors who challenge to give our best,
Devoting life to some honored quest,
Apart from such wisdom and guidance few would try.
Advocates and servers of the homeless and jobless,
The hungry and hurting enveloped in the drear,
Are due acclaim as they counter waves of fear,
And ostentatious luxury leaves the poor more hopeless.
Give to the wind an exalted banner in praise
Of civility, of burdens mutually borne,
For kindness shown, but not then shorn
When conflict turns the peaceful to troubled days.
Raise Stars and Stripes, glorying in a
new day won,
For bigotry unmasked and in retreat,
The hubris shown for its conceit,
Yet knowing the battle joined is not done.
Let the banners fly no matter the season,
Both near and far, as the call arises
For passion extolling the spirit that prizes
A bond with all others beyond mere reason.
For shibboleths exposed, a standard we raise,
When words with forethought and care are measured,
They engender thought and acts to be treasured,
Truth spoken with love will endure all the days.
Let streaming flags with rejoicing yet wave,
Long struggles for cures, and others well advanced,
Treatments of disease so blessedly enhanced,
Hail to all who strive from many ills to save.
For the right, fly the ensigns on high,
Redress of wrongs, with dignity restored,
Movement for far-flung human rights implored,
Failure not shame, the shame is failure to try.
For triumphs of the spirit let banners be unfurled,
Hailing peacemakers and war’s cessation,
Hard won reconciliation as true sensation, With strength and will inspired by a higher world.
For all to see, set the flags of the nations,
A rainbow of colors to feast the eyes,
While one’s own is sure to win the prize,
Seek the brotherhood ordained in man’s relations.
Fly many flags to honor bracing courage
In the fight for justice for the weak and low,
Engaging where only the brave will go,
Bringing life and hope that may endure for an age.
How sweet the breeze which proclaims a zeal
For love and grace that lift the mind,
Setting a premium on ways that are kind,
Let ensigns be upraised for their heart appeal.
When ignorance is dispelled and knowledge gains at length,
Truth finds complement in justice adroitly,
Great or small, it opens possibility,
And brings a heretofore unfathomed strength.
Wisdom knows the cost of freedom is high,
And the freedom we cherish is not secure
As long as others must oppression endure;
Freedom’s spread demands that with justice we comply.
Hail to this blessed land where faith is free!
The laws must aim to be fair and just
To merit the governed people’s trust,
May Old Glory forever wave for life and liberty.
*Alma Simms Martin, wife of W. Chester Martin, held a BA degree from Huntington College, and a Master’s degree in School Administration from Auburn University. The Opelika-Auburn Daily News in a front page obituary of Mrs. Chester Martin on November 24, 1969, observed: “In her various capacities with Opelika’s school system over three decades Mrs. Martin probably came in contact with and been closely associated with more pupils and more parents . . . than any other person in the history of the system.”
In honor of her long and distinguished service, the Northside School in Opelika was named the Alma S. Martin School in 1968 at the time of her retirement.