James.qxp Jan Feb 2019 web - Page 46

Symbolic. Yes. An economic plus. Yes. It’s probably
my strongest memory of 32 years.
Then there was another symbolic change. I am
almost certain it was 1979. Perhaps its passage in the
House fostered the happiest and most exciting day of
my 32 years. Lots of legislators
claim credit for the idea and
the passage, but my memory is
of Peggy Childs from DeKalb
County in the House well
explaining her bill and of Ray
Charles, originally from
Albany, playing and singing on
the House floor “Georgia on
My Mind” as written by Hoagie
Carmichael. (Carmichael spoke
to those assembled from a
phone hook-up in his home in
Los Angeles.) Then came the unanimous vote— yes,
Democrats and Republicans in lock step— and the bill
was on the way to the state Senate.
Perhaps the bill making “Georgia on My Mind” our
official state song was the “biggest bang for the bucks”
legislation that ever passed Georgia’s General
Assembly. And ever is a long, long time. I have heard
our song in places in and out of Georgia, and in and
out of our country including Paris in France. And I
most always get goose bumps when I hear Ray Charles’
voice: “Ooh, Georgia, no peace I find, just an old sweet
song keeps Georgia on my
mind.” I hope Janice will have
the Ray Charles version played
at my funeral.
So, 32 years. Thousands of
bills. And my two to discuss
with you does not include Gov.
Zell Miller’s HOPE Scholarship,
nor much about Joe Frank’s QBE,
nor Gov. Nathan Deal’s many
initiatives making Georgia the
“best state in the United States
to do business.”
No, it’s our beautiful state ag and it’s our wonderful
state song. Symbols are important. Very important. And
we’ve got two great ones.
Larry Walker is a practicing attorney in Perry, a former state legislator
and a former member of the University System Board of Regents.


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