A couple of weeks ago, six men who have known each other all their lives and have touched many more lives during their teaching career were honored for their service during the “Unsung Heroes” program at Patterson Park.
Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess even proclaimed Jan. 29, “Unsung Heroes” Day.
The group was athletes and teachers: Robert James, Ricky Field, Pierre Lyons, Tommy Brown, Leo Martin and Melvin Daniels.
All currently work in Rutherford County except Brown, who retired five years ago.
Eric Turner, who runs the Calvary International Barber Shop and Salon in Murfreesboro, put on the event, Turner mentioned God was the reason he decided to put on the event.
“These guys are men of valor,” Turner said. “They did their jobs without raising a concern about being recognized for their work.”
All six agreed they were touched by the honor, but they are just doing what they put on earth to do.
They also have grown up together and have a deep respect of each other.
“I’m very honored to be with those guys with the “Unsung Heroes,” current Oakland High School teacher Pierre Lyons said. “We had a lot of love and care for each other.
Former students, friends and family were in attendance that night showered praise for the six members that have also played high school, college or even professional sports.
“I was just giving back to the community, like people gave you,” Current Riverdale track and field coach Ricky Field said.
Current Smyrna Middle School administrator and a member of the back-to-back Oklahoma Sooner football national championship teams in the mid-’70s, Leo Martin said he is just a regular guy that does not mind the behind the scenes work to help improve education.
The six have become mentors for many people throughout their teaching career, and all of them agree it touches them to see a former student use what they learned and advance in life.
“I believe that God gave us a talent, and if we don’t use it, he will take it away,” current administrator and teacher at two different schools, Melvin Daniels said.
All six of the men had to deal with different issues while growing up, but they learned to treat everyone with respect.
“We were taught to treat people like human beings, we were taught to be nice and kind, regardless of color,” Lyons said.
Tommy Brown played a key role in bringing the MTSU community together in the ’70s.
He transferred here from TSU, because of Willie Brown. Willie was the first black basketball player for the Blue Raiders.
After spending time with the Harlem Magicians, Brown was put in charge to help improve race relations at the school.
He helped start several programs and groups for students to join.
“I was color-blind, I did not see color,” Brown said. “I saw people for what they were.”
Today, each of them work on bringing up the next generation of students and show them that an education is more important than playing athletics.
Lyons, told a story back when he was part of the Cincinnati Reds organization back during the 1970s.
During one spring training, several kids wanted an autograph from Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Mike Marshall, but Marshall said get one from your teacher instead that will mean a lot more than mine.
“That really struck to me when he said that,” Lyons said. “Baseball didn’t provide for my family, a college education did.”
Martin added about the same topic, “They got to make great strides in the classroom, because athletics might not be there forever.”
James, who is a member of the Buffalo Bills Wall-of-Fame and is a current administrator at Riverdale, said he enjoys helping the next generation of students.
“It’s always healthy to contribute something to the young people, today,” James said. “For them to better themselves, I will truly help someone better themselves. It gives others something to shoot for.”
For these six, the honor will be something that they will never forget.
* The Post mistakenly identified Murfreesboro Mayor Tommy Bragg, when if fact Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess declared Jan. 29, “Unsung Heroes” Day.