• The story of how Jacksonville welcomed John McCain home from Vietnam
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Jacksonville came closer to being a hometown for me than any place in the country.
- John McCain
A couple of months ago during a rainy summer Sunday, I sat down to watch HBO’s documentary entitled: John McCain: For Whom The Bell Tolls . It was an illuminating, exclusive profile of one of the most influential forces in modern American politics, Senator John McCain. For those who have not watched it yet, I strongly encourage you to give it a try. This sweeping account combines the senator's own voice, culled from original interviews, commentary and speeches, with archival newsreel and television footage and previously unseen home movies and photographs. The film also features interviews with family, friends, colleagues and leading political figures that personalize the documentary to connect with an audience who is simply not privy to McCain’s inner drive. It is very well done and worth your time to learn more about someone who many people have disagreed with, but all have respected. 

Senator McCain’s recent battle with brain cancer underscores his fighting spirit and resilience as he continues to crusade for the causes he believes in, despite advancing health issues and daunting odds. What emerges is a portrait of an American maverick who has kept his eye on the most important American goals. As you are watching it, it is impossible to not be in awe of this true American hero. Politics aside, he is a true country-before-self patriot (not in the way that the word has been used lately as a vacuous buzzword), whose lifelong commitment to service cannot be questioned by anyone.  

I’m probably not breaking any news to any of you, and I’m not sure how this had slipped past me prior to now, but the documentary keyed me in to the role that Northeast Florida played in John McCain’s life. Forty-five years ago, John McCain woke up in Jacksonville to start the rest of his life. He was not quite home, but in a hospital, beginning what would be a multi-year stretch of rehabilitation after being kept as a tortured captive for five-and-a-half horrific years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. 

Northeast Florida was home to John McCain- it was a place for healing and a place for planning for his next stage of personal growth and public service. It was a place where he relearned to fly, figured out how to be an integrated member of society, rebuilt family connections and learned how to be the leader that would shape the lives of many men and women for decades to come. Northeast Florida was John McCain’s refuge and a site which he would later call “the most rewarding assignment of my naval career,” even going on to say that “Jacksonville came closer to being a hometown for me than any place in the country.” John McCain greatly loves Northeast Florida because it was a place that cared for his family in a time when their well-being was the only waking thought that kept him alive. 

When McCain left for Vietnam (from his Orange Park home), his adopted sons were 7 and 5. Sidney, McCain’s daughter with his new wife Carol, was just 6 months old. Like Northeast Florida has done for many of its military members over the years, the community pitched in to fill the void. Whether it was fellowship, financial support or emotional sponsorship, Northeast Florida has a knack for pitching in and taking care of its own when in need. It didn’t surprise me to learn more about how we took care of the McCain family so well when our hero was away fighting for the The Great Experiment. 
John McCain returning to family in Jacksonville - Photo Credit: Florida Times-Union
When 36 year old McCain returned, he came home to a family who he barely knew after being away for so long. His personal time was split between the family’s modest home in Orange Park near Doctors Lake and a one-story, cinder-block house in South Ponte Vedra Beach that McCain purchased after his return. Though he never asked anyone for anything, he didn’t pick up a tab in a restaurant for months. As you can imagine, McCain was asked to share his story with the community (and the nation) many times after he returned from living hell. He was always humble about it, giving many River Club speeches honoring the accomplishments of others and the laudable mission of the American way rather than his own redoubtable experiences. His professional time was spent doing a great deal of physical therapy, adapting to a restricted form of aviation and ascending the military chain of command. He was a commander who was lionized by his troops as a war hero and respected by aviators as a fair and effective manager. He was rebuilding his allegiance in his troops and his status as a patriarch of his family using the strengths of Northeast Florida (resilient, gratifying landscape and resilient, gratifying people) as his springboard. Though his first marriage fell apart after he moved on to his next permanent duty station, his family recollects their time in Northeast Florida being a happy time and one in which they wove their familial thread. 
Each time I think about John McCain’s return home from the Hanoi Hilton, nowadays I can’t help but think about two things. First, what I have always thought about, is the breadth of the true nature of McCain’s heroism. Though McCain’s conduct during nearly six years in a North Vietnamese prison had become the stuff of legend (despite great medical hardship he adhered to the P.O.W. code of honor and refused to be repatriated ahead of American prisoners who had been in captivity longer than he, resulting in years of solitary confinement), what I always harken back to is the emotional toll it must have taken on him in returning home. Could you imagine how hard it must have been for McCain to come home to a normal life with the expectation that he had to get back to work with his career and family?

Imagine what that first week must have been like. Gratitude, awe, depression, wonderment, guilt. He got to wake up in a comfortable bed, next to a beautiful woman, in a house with a fridge full of regular food. “Dad, throw me a ball. Can’t Son, I can’t lift my arm.” How did that make him feel? “Sweetie, tell me about your time away. What was it like? Sorry, honey, I don’t want to get into it.” Can you imagine how hard every single moment must have been? It must have felt like a dream as if it all never really happened. Like a movie and he wasn’t cast to play a part until the ending. It must have been so conflicting for him to see first-hand that life really never skipped a beat when he was away. 
And can you imagine the guilt he must have felt? I know from my past military experiences and talking with my former brothers/sisters in arms that military guilt comes in heavy doses. If he was merely human (which I often question), he felt shame that he was somehow fortunate enough to tuck his kids in, make love to his wife, or to relish in life’s basic comforts and joys while his best friends (and even enemy combatants) were dead and maimed. How do you have normal conversations with normal people when you’ve been so exclusively exposed to the meaning of life? “So John, did you see who won the ball game last night? Who cares, Bob, do you know what it is like to be so convicted to your principles that you are willing to die for them?” 

And how do you deal with the pressure of having to make up for lost time? Just imagine all of the “firsts” that he missed. What was it like for him to be alone in his own thoughts? How do you move on? Indeed, how do you move on ? Somehow at some time, having reached the depth of his depression, John McCain gradually awoke to the normal life around him. He licked himself clean and he stitched his wounded pride, opened his eyes, and found out that far away on the horizon there was still a ray of sunlight left. That ray was right here on our beaches and our river. Which brings me to the second thing I now think about when I think about John McCain’s return from Vietnam. 

John McCain was able to get back to normal because, in part, he and his family were nurtured by the embracing arms of Jacksonville. 
John McCain in Jacksonville receiving the Key To The City - Photo Credit: Florida Times-Union
As a military man, I have always loved that Jacksonville is such a military town. The thing about living in a military town like Jacksonville is that the residents become a part of your extended family. Most military families never have the luxury of living near blood relatives, so they learn to lean on their neighbors, squadron, platoon, or church. When good things happen, the community rejoices with you. When bad things happen, they are the first to lend a hand in any way they can. When our service members are sent away from home to protect our freedom, the families and the community are not sad, isolated or afraid. Rather, they come together. 

We are a town that never seems to miss an opportunity to extend gratitude and show support to our troops and their families, and acknowledge their important contribution to the well-being and safety of our country. Jacksonville learned long before John McCain’s Vietnam deployment that all people, not just those involved in the military, benefit from community support of military. Jacksonville always strives to ensure our veterans and their families receive the support and recognition they deserve. For us, saying thank you is only the beginning of how we honor America's warriors. I’m so proud that Northeast Florida played a part in the journey of an American hero, and knowing now what I know about Jacksonville, I should not have been surprised that John McCain fought so hard to stay alive and return to such a special place. Jacksonville and her spirit will last forever, and as long as the sun shines and the waters flow, this land will be here to give life to men and women. And life is worth fighting for. Just ask John McCain. 

Very truly yours,

It's not too late to register for the upcoming
Southeast Building Conference (SEBC)
Back by popular demand, Former Chairman of the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board ("CILB") and Jimerson & Cobb's Co-Founder, Christopher M. Cobb, will be leading a two courses at this year's Southeast Building Conference.

Join Chris on Thursday, August 16 for Construction Licensing where attendees will learn about disciplinary proceedings, qualifying new companies, joint ventures, and how to obtain new and additional licenses. Further, there will be information on the penalties for unlicensed activity and how that can impact a project.
Interested in learning more about Construction Contacts ? Join Chris on Friday, August 17th to review the importance of fully understanding and effectively negotiating construction contracts.
Charles Jimerson Recognized Among the Top 100 Law Influencers in the Country
The Business Journal recently released its top 100 most influential attorneys in the United States. Jimerson & Cobb’s Managing Partner, Charles B. Jimerson, has been recognized among this select group for his impact on business and legal matters in communities nationwide.

These lawyers were identified by editors and staff writers across the Business Journals ’ network of more than 40 publications nationwide. Each has been featured as part of the Business Journals ’ continuing coverage of the newsmakers in those cities. The Business Journals network describes these executives as the people to know for entrepreneurs and companies that are looking to expand and grow their businesses.

Charles Jimerson has received multiple local and statewide business and legal awards, including being named to Legal Elite and Super Lawyer’s lists for every year in the past decade. Jimerson has obtained Florida Bar expert status through Board Certification, and has consistently been named as a Top Attorney in Florida by numerous publications. The Jacksonville Business Journal has previously honored Jimerson as an Ultimate Attorney (inaugural class) and a Veteran of Influence. Jimerson & Cobb, P.A. has previously been recognized as one of the fastest-growing law firms in America, and has been acknowledged five times as one of the 50 fastest-growing companies in Northeast Florida by the Jacksonville Business Journal
Jimerson is 1 of 12 lawyers from the state of Florida amongst the honorees.

Click here to read the press release.
J&C Legal Blogs
Are you keeping up with the latest information in business and law? J&C publishes weekly blog posts covering topics from construction law, business litigation, eminent domain law, community associations law and everything in between. Click here to subscribe today and stay up-to-date on the latest legal news from these areas:

Construction Industry Law Blog
The Most Common Licensing Violations Committed by Certified Contractors,
Part IV:
Abandoned Construction Project

Part IV of this series will discuss the ramifications of abandoning a construction project. It will also cover potential disciplinary actions by the Construction Industry Licensing Board (“CILB”) for doing so. It is no secret, everyone in every business deals with difficult customers. In the construction industry, your actions can lead to discipline being issued against your license, due to an abandonment violation.

Click here to read the full blog post.
How Do You Become A Certified General Contractor In Florida

Click here to read the full blog post.
Business Litigation Blog
Accessing Navigable Water: Allocation Of Riparian Rights Among Landowners

Owners of waterfront property have “riparian rights” to access the navigable water and the right to a waterfront view in addition to their rights to use their upland property.  Docking rights often are an area of dispute, not only for waterfront property owners seeking dock permits from the government, but also between neighbors who may disagree on the appropriate allocation of riparian rights among the waterfront property owners.

Click here to read the full blog post.
Your Guide to the most impactful 2018 Legislative Amendments to the Florida Statutes

Click here to read the full blog post.
Community Association Law Blog
The Business Judgment Rule: A Shield for Community Association Board Members and Directors

Disputes between community associations and their members are common. These disputes may evolve into lawsuits. In some instances, the plaintiffs in these lawsuits attempt to hold the directors or officers personally liable for damages. Luckily for the directors and officers, the business judgment rule shields them from personal liability, unless they breach a fiduciary duty.

Click here to read the full blog post.
Firm News
Curiosities, Ruminations and Various Eccentricies of Firm Biz
Bob Ross And The Happy
Little Winners
J&C employees have years of practice painting happy little trees, but can they paint a happy little rowboat on the beach?

This month we had our annual Bob Ross painting competition where each team member gets two minutes to contribute to the painting, and when their time is up, the next team member must pick up where they left off.

The competition is always intense at J&C, but this year we had a clear winner. Congratulations to Chris, Brandon, Jessica, Jennifer, and Evan.

All Aboard The Kraken
One of the great things about our downtown office in the Wells Fargo Building is the beautiful view of the St. Johns river. Several months ago, the Kraken Cycleboat came to Jacksonville. We started to get a little envious watching the boat cruise up and down the river, and decided it was high time for a little J&C team-building on the water.

So what is a "cycleboat" you ask? That's easy... it’s where biking meets boating, and from our experience, a perfect way to enjoy a few hours out on the water in our beautiful city.
Fore! J&C Office Becomes A Mini Golf Course
The 8th annual J&C Mini Golf Championship was in full swing last week with 14 participants and 13 holes. Every hole showed the creativity and engineering skills of our firm. This year's theme was "TV shows" and the participants pulled out all the stops. The Bachelor, Survivor, Lost, The Crown, Storage Wars, Smurfs, and Mad Men were just a few of shows that were represented. Every hole was unique with a different level of difficulty, and many incorporated music, lighting, drinks and even a courtesy to the Queen. Clayton was the overall stroke winner with an impressive 24 and the winning team included Brandon, Clayton, Evan, and Henry. This event has become a staple at the firm and keeps getting better every year.
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One Independent Drive, Suite 1400
Jacksonville, FL 32202

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