by Verlie Edwards

During the fall of 1979 while working at the Texas Osteopathic Medical Association, I had a unique opportunity to take 40-plus osteopathic physicians and spouses on a continuing education trip to Russia. We traveled from Dallas/Fort Worth to Moscow and Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg).

Russia was preparing for the 1980 Olympics anxious to “show off” their country. Little did we know that six weeks later they would invade Afghanistan and the United States would withdraw from the Olympics.

The Russian sights were exquisite, but the overall mood of the communist-ruled country was completely foreign and bleak to each of us. No one smiled. We saw a lady looking out the rear window of a public bus totally devoid of expression. She appeared to be totally down trodden.

We were constantly watched. One day several other ladies and I decided to go shopping by ourselves. Our tour guide, Marina,(who we believed to be KBG and monitoring us constantly) was more than a little displeased when we ventured out on our own.

The taxi driver that took us back to our hotel spoke English and we had a great time laughing and singing “Deep in the Heart of Texas” with him. Our frivolity was quickly dampened when he said, “We laugh and sing now, but I am being watched at every street corner. I may be in trouble for what we do together.”

When our return flight touched down onto our homeland, the group erupted into claps and cheers. As we deplaned many, many knelt and kissed the ground. We were so glad to be home in our country where we are free. Each of us realized that traveling outside the United States broadened our experiences and made us appreciate the freedoms we often take for granted. Take time to explore what makes you grateful for where we live.

God Bless the United States of America!

#letfreedomring #GodBlessAmerica #GodBlesstheUnitedStatesofAmerica

Verlie McAlister Edwards was raised in Abilene, Texas and it’s there that she realized her love for writing. She enjoyed a special high school English teacher who happened to be the school’s newspaper sponsor. In order to take another class under her, Verlie signed up for journalism and the journey began. Unlike many students, she never changed her college major – she was always focused on journalism as a career. She graduated from the University of North Texas (UNT) with a degree in journalism and political science.

After graduation she returned to her hometown and worked as a reporter at the Abilene Reporter-News covering the local education scene from the students’ perspective. Following a year of graduate work at UNT she moved to Fort Worth where a career in public relations and political affairs flourished. She always wanted to work in academic PR and achieved that goal early in her career at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine.

After many years providing public relations consultation to the osteopathic profession and serving as the communications director/special events fundraiser for Lena Pope Home (a residential treatment facility for abused and neglected youth) she joined the staff of the Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors (GFWAR) as the communications and governmental affairs director. It’s here that she found her calling and further developed her skills in the political arena.

After 11 years in that position she took her writing, political and organizational skills to serve as chief of staff for Texas State Representative Rob Orr, a past president of the GFWAR. She remained on Rep. Orr’s staff throughout his 10 years as an elected official and then served as District Director for his successor, Representative DeWayne Burns, during his first legislative session. At that time she retired from the Texas Legislature and began working part-time as curator for U.S. Congressman Roger Williams’ personal museum.

Verlie is excited to use her writing skills to help the Iron Butterflies Project as both a writer and Vice President and Editor-In-Chief.

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