The traditional honor of leading Morgan County’s 4th of July parade as Grand Marshals, has been given to Larry and Sherolyn Jenkins. The couple will lead the parade tomorrow to kick off Morgan County’s annual 4th of July celebration.
The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ officers had the responsibility of choosing who would be given the honor this year. After considering several nominees, they unanimously chose Larry and Sherolyn. Milan Mecham helped with the decision. “We wanted to have a veteran,” said Milan, “and Sherolyn and Larry are as patriotic as they come.”
America has, over the course of her history, stood as a symbol of freedom, inviting the oppressed to come and participate in a grand experiment in self-determination. The difficulties have been numerous and the challenges steep, but the the idealistic possibility has left its mark; perseverance etched into the very substance of what it means to be an American.
Obstacles are part of the package that comes with the territory of being American, but it is the way in which we choose to confront such challenges that define us as individuals. We all know the feeling of being on the verge of giving up when our burdens seem unbearable. It is precisely at such times, when given the opportunity to witness others who have overcome hardships even greater than our own, that we are able to carry our crosses with renewed determination; after all, it is much easier to bear the weight of hardships when we have seen others do so with joy and dignity. There are a few whose job in life, it seems, is to offer such an example for the rest of us; so that we are encouraged to believe, that indeed, we too, can endure.
At the age of 13, Sherolyn was stricken with polio which nearly cost her life. She has been confined to a wheelchair since the early 1990’s but has remained positive throughout her ordeal. Rather than focusing on her own disability, she explained how blessed her life is. “I am truly blessed to have grown up here in Morgan and to have such wonderful people around me,” she said. Larry is also confined to a wheelchair; losing his legs due to complications of diabetes. He also maintains a positive outlook.
Patriotism was part of each of the Jenkins’ upbringings. One of Sherolyn’s most cherished memories is while growing up here in Morgan; every 4th of July, she and her father, Curtis Rogers, would display the American flag atop the building where he worked. “They say we’re patriotic, and we are… One of the things that I remember that was just thrilling to me,” she said, “when I was a small girl; my dad was the superintendent of Del Monte over here at the California packing corporation. I remember climbing up the stairs in those old buildings over there, to hang the flag… and as a child I went with him every time; every 4th of July we would hang the flag first thing in the morning.”
Larry’s love of country moved him to follow in his brother’s footsteps and enlist in the military when he was only seventeen years old. He served aboard an aircraft carrier during the Korean War with his older brother and then again in the Vietnam War. He expressed his feelings regarding military service, “to me it is an honor… an honor to serve.” Larry served a total of five years.
Larry and Sharolyn both have relatives that have also served in the military. Sharolyn’s father, Curtis Rogers, served in World War I, her brother, Bernell Rogers, served in World War II, and her brothers-in-law, Robert Whittier and Jack Tueller also served. All of their names except Jack Tueller, who is from another area, are on the veterans’ memorial at the Morgan County Courthouse. “It is a sacred place, really,” said Sherolyn, “people give up so many years of their lives to serve their country.”
After the parade, Larry and Sherolyn will celebrate their freedom of religion. Their twin granddaughters, Madeline and Sophia, will be getting baptized. They have six grandchildren total, all from their only child, Sueann, and her spouse, Neal Harris. The other grandkids are; triplets, Aiden, Luke, and Evan, and the caboose of the half dozen, Nicholas.
As we come together this 4th of July to celebrate America’s independence and the freedoms that make this country unique, let us be inspired by the Jenkins’ example of gratefulness in the face of adversity and choose to also live to the highest of our potentials; under the waving of the red white and blue.