For more than 60 years,
a publication centered on life in Mississippi.
Today is July 23, 2017

Editorial

Nation’s birthday a reminder of the ongoing cost of freedom

By Michael Callahan

Michael Callahan
Michael Callahan,
Executive Vice President/CEO
EPAs of Mississippi

Barbecues, cold watermelon, fireworks and flag waving are staples of America’s birthday party, Independence Day. It’s one of our most fun holidays in Mississippi: School’s out, the sunshine’s plentiful and the heat makes a cool swim a wonderful thing. Folks flock to the beautiful Mississippi Coast and patriotic celebrations crank up in communities across the state.

Independence Day marks the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. This bold move by the 13 American colonies cut their political ties to Great Britain and opened the door for the new nation to be officially recognized by foreign governments.

A war would be fought, though, and many lives lost before America would finally emerge as a free and independent nation after the British surrender in 1781.

Political and civil liberties are glorious (and rare) things, and worthy of our sacrifices and protection. Too many people throughout our nation’s 241-year history have given their lives to secure and safeguard our freedom for us to take it for granted.

I suspect Independence Day will mean more in the future to a special group of Mississippi high school students. These 70 students recently toured Washington, D.C., courtesy of their local electric cooperative.

The annual Electric Cooperative Youth Tour took them to war and veterans’ memorials, monuments honoring great leaders, world-class museums, Arlington National Cemetery, Washington National Cathedral and the U.S. Capitol.

All these sites share a common theme: Freedom is not free. I’m sure our Youth Tour students—always a bright bunch—picked up on that.

The students also learned how electric cooperatives work with elected leaders to relay the concerns of rural Mississippians. That’s why we urge our members to vote and why we focus on advancing the interests of rural communities in our nation’s capital.

The Youth Tour is part of the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi Youth Leadership program. We’ll tell you more about it in our August issue.
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If your electric service was interrupted during Tropical Storm Cindy’s sweep through our region last month, the most likely cause was a tree (or limbs) falling onto a power line that serves you.

Rainfall deluged Mississippi’s already saturated soils for days, causing some trees to lose their grip and topple over—and, in many instances, take power lines down with them. Electric cooperative crews responded immediately. They began rebuilding lines and restoring service as soon as conditions allowed them to work safely.

Power outages caused by storms cannot be prevented, but they can be reduced through aggressive right-of-way clearing practices.

Each of Mississippi’s 25 electric distribution cooperatives places a priority on maintaining a clear path for delivering electricity to members. Keeping thousands of miles of power lines free of underbrush, trees, vines and nearby limbs is a huge job in this state, where nature runs wild in the summer months.

It’s also a huge expense. Yet the payoff is real. Routine right-of-way maintenance drastically reduces the chances of a limb or tree damaging a power line.

There are other causes of power outages, of course, including wildlife, traffic accidents, lightning, equipment failure and countless others. Rest assured that regardless of why (or when) your electric service is interrupted, electric cooperatives have the ability and the will to restore it quickly and safely.

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