Athens is a town with an uncommonly positive spirit, something that is rare these days. I don’t mean to go all “Pollyanna” on you, because we do have real problems that need real solutions. However, a trend is returning to our nation that I haven’t seen for close to 50 years, and that is, especially in the past year, law enforcement officers who protect us are now having to do what soldiers do when they deploy: kiss their families goodbye, with everyone facing the real possibility that Daddy or Mommy may not come home. And, I might add, they have to do it afresh each morning when they leave for work. This is something that police officers sign on to do when they are sworn in. However, as someone who used to think of police as porcine, and soldiers as baby killers, I am all too familiar with what happens when people vilify first responders, and the damage it does to the accusers as well as the accused. It is what causes cultures to unravel, and that’s why we must stand together.
Baltimore is still on fire, Ferguson has been so at least twice in the past year, New York City cops have been executed while eating a meal in their car, and rival gangs have decided to bury the hatchet, join forces, and go after the cops.
While all of this is cause for grave concern, what I am about to tell you is why I love being an Athenian. A project is underway, the brainchild of local author and Athens Now columnist, Jerry Barksdale. It is called “Together We Stand,” and the desire is simple: show the thin blue and thin brown line that we support them by throwing them a party. More precisely, it will be a dinner held in the Limestone County Event Center on June 12th at 6:30 pm. Jackie Greenhaw is putting together a show to entertain the officers and spouses that are attending, and fundraising is underway so that the law enforcement officers can be the dinner guests of the citizens of Athens Limestone County.
The details are still being finalized, and soon posters will be seen throughout the city advertising the dinner, and giving the public the chance to donate, volunteer, and make this evening memorable. There has even been a song written to commemorate the evening, and what is hoped is that it will become the anthem of what becomes a movement. This summer the guests of honor will be law enforcement, 2016 will be firefighters, and 2017 emergency medical personnel and those support personnel who make it possible for them to do their job.
Whether or not you involve yourself with the organization or the dinner, there is a way to show solidarity with “our boys (and girls) in blue,” (or brown). You can signal your support by burning a blue light at night time while our police are keeping you safe. At our house, we took a Christmas electric candelabra and switched out the clear lights for blue ones. I am hoping that eventually everyone on our street will follow suit, because I want our block, our town, county, state and nation to say thank you, come together, and defy the haters through the use of something far stronger, and that is love and gratitude. Won’t you join us?
For more information on the organization, its mission, and how to help, go to togetherwestandal.com
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner