(BEDFORD) - Dr. Medhat Girgis, seated in his office on his day off, smiled when asked how he felt upon learning he will serve as grand marshal of the 2012 Limestone Heritage Festival Parade, slated for July 4 in downtown Bedford.
"I am proud to be the grand marshal," he said, "and I am looking forward to it. I want to represent service. Whether I am the grand marshal or anything else, I am here to serve.
"This is such an honor for me and my family. To come from another country and to be the grand marshal is quite an honor."
Bob Bridge, of the Times-Mail reports, Girgis and his wife, Monda, first arrived in Bedford in 1972.
"People here are like your family. We help each other, and that's what I like most. Bedford is a great city, and all of my children went to school here."
Medhat and Monda have three children and seven grandchildren. Their eldest son, Kamal, also is a physician with Indiana University Health Hospital and is married to Bedford Mayor Shawna Girgis.
The son of a physician, Medhat was born in Egypt.
"If a father is a doctor, then the son would be a doctor," Girgis explained. "My father was the chief of infectious diseases in Alexandria. He had three boys. One had to become a doctor.
"I wanted to be an engineer. Initially, I did not want to be a doctor."
However, as time passed, Medhat's affection for the profession grew.
Medhat was in Scotland when he experienced a spiritual epiphany.
"While I was in Aberdeen, I went to hear Billy Graham," he said. "It changed my life forever. I learned life is about serving."
When Egyptian officials refused to extend his passport and required him to return to Egypt to work in a hospital there, Girgis sought freedom and opportunity in America.
On Independence Day, he will celebrate 40 years of medical service in Lawrence County. Keys to the cities of Bedford and Mitchell are positioned prominently in his small office.
Regardless of what he decides to do in the future, service will be at the heart of his activities.
"Two words are not found in the Bible," Girgis said, then smiled. "They are luck and retirement.
"I want to serve. I could help uninsured patients, or maybe do a mission in Haiti, Nicaragua or somewhere else.
"But this will be my home. This is my country, and Bedford is my city."
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