Editorial: Use social media for the positive; and a true hero

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 6, 2019

Oh, the power of social media.

It can influence elections. It can influence minds. It can influence our lives in ways we don’t even realize. And way too often, all of these things have misguided intentions.

But it can also be used for good.

Lori Sluder Smith is a shining example of just that.

A couple of weeks ago, there was a young man walking along the roads in this area, carrying a backpack. It was during the heat wave — and it was hot — really hot.

The young man was a college student from South Carolina, walking from there to Canada. He had no set plans, just an idea to set his tent up at fire stations, in parks, wherever he would be allowed.

He had stayed at Cool Springs Fire Department, and began the walk down U.S. 64 towards Mocksville.

He made it as far as Center United Methodist Church. He spent the night there, pitching his tent on the community center’s grounds. He enjoyed a night with members. He even wowed them with his classical piano expertise and shared a meal.

The next day, he hit the road again. One foot after the other, over and over. You can bet that if the temperature was 94 degrees, on asphalt it was well over 100. I’m sure he got some strange looks from passers-by. And he got plenty of people offering help, as well.

One of those passers-by was Lori Smith. She had seen him walking down a sultry U.S. 158 on a Sunday afternoon, and tried to turn around to offer him some water. She couldn’t make the turn-around, and wondered what the young man was doing, how he was doing, where he was from, where he was going.

The next morning, as is her routine, she stopped at the Chick-fil-A in Clemmons for a quick bite to eat before hurrying to her next stop. There he was. That same young man who was walking up U.S. 158 in sweltering weather the day before.

She struck up a conversation. She learned his story. And she missed her next appointment.

But she didn’t stop there. She wanted to make sure his loved ones knew he was OK. She wanted to make sure he had a safe place to stay every night. She made calls to friends and others she knew in the places he was traveling.

And she posted her encounter to Facebook.

Offers for places to stay along the route started coming in, with Lori leading the way. Those offers weren’t just from this area, but into Virginia and beyond.

Yes, social media is powerful and influential. Let’s use it for some good. Let’s use it for something positive.

• • •

Another powerful image had to be that of Harold Frank placing a wreath on the graves at the American Cemetery at Flanders Field last week. A D-Day veteran and former prisoner of war, Frank was one of a handful of World War II veterans in Europe for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. It’s emotional for us all, but imagine what it must be like for Mr. Frank, seeing those same places where his friends died — where he almost died.

He’s a true hero. And word is that he ditched his cane he uses for balance before walking up to place the wreath at the cemetery.

A tough hero, too.

Mike Barnhardt is editor of the Davie County Enterprise-Record.

Respect Quote of the Week

“When I show respect, I try to be the best person I can be.”

— Rhyne Watts