At the May 3, 2010 Town Board of Aldermen meeting, Mayor Joe Collins had the honor of presenting Jerry DeHart with The Order of the long Leaf Pine on behalf of Governor Beverly Perdue. Jerry DeHart served with the Franklin Police Department for 30 years, and was Vice-Chief at the time of his retirement.
The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is among the most prestigious awards presented by the Governor of North Carolina. The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is presented to individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state. Contributions to their communities, extra effort in their careers, and many years of service to their organizations are some of the guidelines by which recipients are selected for this award. The honor is most often presented when a person retires.
A state employee can be awarded The Order if the employee has contributed more than 30 years of dedicated and enthusiastic service to the state of North Carolina.
The certificate reads in part:
"Reposing special confidence in the integrity, learning and zeal of [honoree], I [the Governor of North Carolina] do by these presents confer The Order of the Long Leaf Pine with the rank of Ambassador Extraordinary, privileged to enjoy fully all rights granted to members of this exalted order, among which is the special privilege to propose the following North Carolina toast in select company anywhere in the free world:"
Here's to the land
of the long leaf pine,
The summer land
Where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong
and the strong grow great,
Here's to 'down home,'
the Old North State!
This is the first verse of the official toast of North Carolina, from a poem by Leonora Martin and Mary Burke Kerr.
Wikipedia served a source for information on The Order of the Long Leaf Pine for this article.