Angie Mikus says she doesn’t expect anything in return when she does things like serve a free Thanksgiving meal to anyone in town that wants one. The town gave her something in return anyway, awarding her the Dream in Action Award last Sunday in recognition of her contributions to the community.
Rev. Charles Brooks of Poplar Spring Christian Church headlined Garner’s annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, which along with the presentation of Mikus’ award also featured musical numbers by his church’s choir, the Hall Sisters and Garner High’s The Die Meister Singers.
“I'm never speechless for anything, but I was very speechless. I was very honored,” Mikus said. “It’s nice to be recognized.”
WRAL television news anchor Michelle Marsh served as Mistress of Ceremonies, and Brooks took his opportunity to talk about what it took to be great. He cited a King sermon in which the civil rights leader said he didn’t want to be remembersed for his accomplishments but for “his drum major instincts.” He talked about the biblical passage in which two apostles asked to be seated at Jesus’ side, and Jesus told them it wasn’t his position to give.
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“If you truly want to be great, you have to earn it for yourselves. Greatness requires work,” Brooks told the audience.
He said that striving to be great for the sake of greatness resulted in problems.
“Dr. King understood that if this kind of attitude dominated a person’s heart, such behavior would breathe exclusivism and prejudice. History supports this,” Brooks said.
Instead, King, and Brooks, advocated for people to take the spirit of a drum major if they wanted to be great. The drum major, he said, is not the band director, but carries out his orders. He does not play music, but inspires those who do. And he inspires people to join the band, and puts the band in proper formation.
“The drum major may not produce the sound, but the drum major leads the band in bringing their gifts together,” Brooks said. “The drum major is a person of distinction. That’s who Dr. King was.”
Brooks called Mikus an example. The single mother who had worked as a server for years, saved up her money and bought Old Garner Road Restaurant about three years ago. Since then, she has constantly expressed a desire to provide help to the community the way it helped her.
“I was that girl. I was the girl, a single mom, that couldn’t afford this couldn’t afford that, and this town took care of me. Anything I can do to change somebody’s life, I’m all for it,” Mikus said.
She also had a big effect on Joey Johnson, the victim in a brutal car accident, back in June. The plaster and stucco contractor faced mounting medical bills after a life-threatening collision with a drunk driver while on his way to work in January. The fundraiser organized by Patrick O’Neill and hosted by Angie’s raised more than $10,000 to support Johnson’s family.
This summer the Garner Mid-Day Rotary also honored Mikus along with Amy White and Leigh Hudson.
Garner holds an event to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. annually.
King would have turned 85 on Jan. 15. The U.S. instituted a federal holiday for King in 1983 with some naming it for other leaders and others, such as Virginia and Mississippi, joining the celebration with recognition of Confederate Civil War generals.
Not every state formally recognized the holiday right away, with South Carolina last to do so in 2000. Virginia and Mississippi each had King share the holiday with Confederate General Robert E. Lee for a number of years after the federal government instituted it.