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Courtesy, generosity and respect are just a few of the traits recognized by the Orangeburg County Community of Character in selecting the recipient of the Austin Cunningham Character Award, better known as "The Austin."

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The award, established in 2009, is given annually to a county resident and/or group or organization exemplifying the character traits that make their communities better places to live, work and play.

The award’s namesake, Austin Cunningham, 94, had decades of experience in helping shape and improve the lives of others. The Orangeburg resident, who died a decade ago in 2009, was named the local Citizen of the Year and the state’s Outstanding Elder Citizen of the Year.

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He had a leading hand in the development of the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative, which was launched in 2000 through a partnership between the county Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Orangeburg Revitalization Organization, the county Development Commission and The Times and Democrat. Cunningham also wrote editorials for The T&D extolling character traits.

Remembering Cunningham and his wisdom, here is an adaptation of his words about courtesy, the character trait for November 2019:

This voting is about your town

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If you're courteous, polite, refined, genteel, thoughtful, life will be so much easier for you. People will brighten up when you enter the room. They'll say or think, "That's Joe (or Mary). They're so nice. It's always nice to run into them."

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So, all this month try being polite, courteous, civil, gracious, graceful, good, refined, genteel, elegant. Be gentlemen. Be ladies, ladylike. Speak softly, gently. Don’t be rude. Don’t yell.

When somebody does something good, compliment them. Mind your manners. Keep a civil tongue. Give one's best. Send regards. Happy returns of the day! Happy Valentine's Day! What a nice day this is. "Let us rejoice and be glad in it!"

Children be well-behaved, well-spoken. Parents be courteous and deeply affectionate to your children. When they grow up or become teenagers, they'll be courteous right back.

One good turn deserves another.

Saw a woman today trying to park her car. There were grocery carts in the way. Another woman walked over and moved them. What a happy moment!

One good deed deserves another. You'll sleep better, be happier. Your food will taste better.

"Life is not so short, but that there is always time enough for courtesy." -- RE Emerson

"Wholesome as air, and genial as the light,

Is that fine sense that men call courtesy."

Be nice to each other this month. Be courteous! Say thanks!

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