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Small, white crosses making quiet, powerful statement

Dereck Gillett wins Geographic Bee



Small, white crosses making quiet, powerful statement
Have you noticed a two and a half foot tall white cross standing in a yard and wondered why was it placed there? Does it represent something particular? Where did it come from? Very possibly, the answer is from Dennis Appleby, who has made a quiet, powerful statement.
What started this mission statement for Dennis is when he and his wife were traveling across the country several years ago. While in Boise, Idaho, he was admiring the little white crosses that dotted the city. He found out later atheist groups were trying to remove the crosses. However, they were on private property so they were allowed to stay.
In Frankenmuth, Mich., an atheist complained about two crosses on a bridge. The man requested they be removed and the town removed them. He then went after the city's shield, which along with other symbols, had a heart with a cross inside signifying the city's Lutheran beginnings. Hundreds of residents living in Frankenmuth made their opinions known by placing small crosses in their front yards. Seeing this powerful statement from the community, the man removed his complaint. Those simple crosses in Frankenmuth remain in the front yards today.
"Those two incidents were the seeds for my mission," said Dennis.
The cross comes with a letter titled "Why the Cross?" written by Dennis, who believes the letter is a wake up call to America that encourages people to display the crosses and in doing so make a quiet, powerful statement.
The letter states. "Everywhere the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and others are trying to remove from our military, our schools, our history, and current lives, any reference to Jesus, or the fact that our country was founded on Christian principles. This cross is for people who want to show that we are a Christian nation. The framers of the Constitution realized that Christian principles were essential to the survival of the nation and there is undeniable proof that the United States was founded with these Christian values as a basis of the Constitution." writes Dennis who stands firmly by his own principals.
"Believe me, I'm more offended by some of these atheists actions than they are with the Christian symbols they're trying to take down," he said. "It's a Christian nation and we should have the freedom to put up Christian symbols."
In the beginning, Dennis thought he'd make about 10 or 12 crosses maybe for a neighbor or a friend. Having retired and moved about three years ago to Wichita Falls, Texas, and placing his cross in his front yard, Dennis found that nearly everyone on his street wanted one. Now he constructs somewhere between four and eight crosses every day in his garage and as of last month, Dennis has made more than 3,000 crosses.
Dennis said he is limited on his carpenter skills but said these simple crosses are not difficult to make, and they are free. He does not charge for them. Friends and even a local lumber company have donated the specific type of wood he needs to make them.
Why free? "You see the joy it brings people and that's good enough payment for me," said Dennis.
At one point, Dennis thought it was time to stop making the crosses.
About that time, a woman called and wanted a cross. She tried to pay for the cross but Dennis said he would rather just give them away. She said, "I want to pay you, because that way you won't stop." Days later there was a similar incident of an individual wanting a cross. Once again, he declined money, but the person insisting on paying.
"He stuffed the bill in my pocket and I felt really bad about it. God was sending people to me so I wouldn't stop making the crosses," said Dennis.
At the present time, Dennis will continue to construct the crosses as long as the demand is there.
So, in the future if you see a man stopped along the side of a country road with the trunk of his car up, or see a man standing in the middle of a wheat field, in an orange grove, or waiting on "Old Faithful" to erupt, and is handing someone a white cross, more than likely that will be Dennis Appleby, formerly of Courtland. He continues to make a quiet, powerful statement. Remember, they are free.

Dereck Gillett wins Geographic Bee
Dereck Gillett, the son of Jim and Kim Gillett, rural Esbon, and a Rock Hills eighth grader, won the school level competition of the National Geographic Bee and a chance at a $50,000 college scholarship. The school level bee, at which students selected from grades four through eight answered oral questions on geography, was the first round in the 27th annual National Geographic Bee. Dereck and other school winners from across the nation will now take a written test. Up to 100 of the top scorers on that test in each state will be eligible to compete in their state bee to be held March 27.
Other qualifiers for the school wide bee were: fourth grader, Grant Meyers; fifth grader, Caitlynn Scarrow; sixth graders, Kole Vance, Tanner Shipman and Jerrod Gillett; eighth graders, Rachel Brown and Derric Luong; seventh graders, Jaclyn Yelken and Sam Underwood, who tied for second.
The National Geographic Society will provide an all expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the state champions and teacher escorts to participate in the Geo Bee National Championship rounds May 11, 12 and 13. The first place national winner will receive a $50,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership in the Society, and a trip to the Galapagos Islands, courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic.

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