Concord Charlie Sees His Shadow, Vets and the Military are Honored at Groundhog Day Assembly
Athens, W.Va. - As Dr. Jerry Beasley, president of Concord University donned a pair of sunglasses, he shared the sad news that came from the region’s best weather prognosticator. Concord Charlie saw his shadow, which means six more weeks of winter weather for Four Seasons Country.
The announcement came at the twenty-seventh annual Groundhog Day celebration and breakfast that took place in the College Center Ballroom at Concord University on Tuesday, February 2.
The celebration began with an invocation from Steve Cox, head men’s basketball coach. More than 100 guests enjoyed the traditional Groundhog breakfast of scrambled eggs, country ham, biscuits and gravy, grits, and doughnuts.
Dr. Joseph “Joe” Manzo, professor of geography, served as emcee for the annual event. He introduced, “Charlie’s Angels,” appropriately named in honor of Concord’s great groundhog, “Concord Charlie.” The singing quartet, comprised of Concord staff members, Jean and Larry Mann, Larry Lilly and Steve Cox, performed four songs. The first was “Groundhog Day is Here Again.” Next, in honor of the veterans, “Battle Hymn of the Groundhog,” to the tune of “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” followed by “Charlie the Weather Groundhog,” to the tune of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Their last song, which they attributed as their “pop crossover” hit, was “You Ain’t Nothing but a Groundhog.”
Dr. Manzo then introduced the head table, which included Jean and Jerry Beasley, Sharon Manzo and Carolyn and Steve Cox.
Dr. Beasley announced that the recipient of this year’s “Grand Groundhog Watcher” award, Mr. Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, was unable to attend the morning’s festivities.
Williams, whose hometown is Quiet Dell, in Marion County, W.Va., served in the United States Marines where he saw combat in the infamous battle of Iwo Jima, and ultimately went above and beyond the call of duty, which led to President Harry S. Truman awarding him the Medal of Honor. Williams is the only living Medal of Honor winner in the Mountain State.
Beasley reported recent research about groundhogs. He talked about a scientific response to the age-old question, “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”
“A team of scientists from one of our sister universities, Cornell, has determined, they think, that the answer to that question is 700 pounds,” Beasley shared. He also commented on their research methods, saying that they studied the volume of Concord Charlie’s burrow.
Beasley also said he lost sleep because he had not talked with Charlie before making the name change from Concord College to Concord University.
But, according to Beasley, Charlie was not miffed. “Don’t worry about me, Jerry,” he said, “I don’t assign much importance to names. We are who we are.” He said that he had been called many names in the past, including the Magnificent Mountaineer of Meteorology, the Clairvoyant of the Climate, and the Soothsayer of the Shadows.
Beasley then reported that Charlie was pleased with the choice of the honoree of the ceremony, saying, “I know what you are about today, and I want you to tell those lads and lasses who are serving our country that I’m proud of them.”
Vice President for Business and Finance, James “Jim” Cannon, and Director of the Center for Academic Technologies, Timothy Barnes, are retired from the armed forces and currently work at Concord. They explained the significance of the Medal of Honor and provided a brief biography of the honoree.
“I know we’re all disappointed that Woody could not be here today, but once again he’s doing his duty, this time at his wife’s side,” said Cannon. Cannon went on to describe the criteria for the distinguished honor. The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force, which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the armed services of the United States. It is generally presented to its recipient by the president of the United States of America in the name of Congress. Cannon said that since the honor was established in 1863, only 3,459 awards have been issued, and a number of those were awarded posthumously, and that there are only 129 living recipients today.
Barnes spoke of the special honor associated with Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, in that the tradition of initiating a salute falls to the service member with least rank, but that tradition is broken for Medal of Honor recipients, to whom persons of any rank, whether it is a private or four-star general, initiate the salute. Barnes, who retired from the Marines as a major, then rendered his salute of honor to Williams, who was a corporal in the Marines.
Cannon, who served in the Army, Marines and Navy, asked for veterans and military personnel to stand and be recognized. About 50 stood and received recognition and applause from the audience.
Prior to the breakfast, students from Concord’s Bonner Scholars program, Alpha Phi Omega and the International Club collected $132.25 to benefit victims of the tsunami in south Asia.
For the first time ever, a groundhog king and queen will be crowned. The coronation will take place at WinterPlace ski resort on Groundhog Day between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m.
For more information, contact Anita Lewis at 1-304-384-5288 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTO: “Charlie’s Angels,” Jean Mann, Larry Lilly, Larry Mann and Steve Cox serenade guests with tunes about groundhogs, what else?
Pictures from today’s Groundhog breakfast are on Concord’s web site. Log on to www.concord.edu, click on “News & Events,” then “Events.” Or, click on the following link: