This one hit hard. And so close to home. Because it is the community where my husband grew up, where our extended family still lives. Because our son is an officer in an adjacent community. And our nephew (soon to become an officer) trained in the junior academy with the same department … the same band of brothers who lost those two seasoned officers last Saturday. They were just doing what they do every day, responded to a 911 call. Serving the public.
Then they were ambushed. And so were our hearts.
Hate-filled crime is senseless. Paralyzing.
I can’t even look at the photo of the killer. I’m battling so much anger.
Every day since Saturday, our hearts break a little more.
I can’t sleep, thinking of those wives left behind. And their babies. Who will take them to daddy/daughter dances? Who will walk them down the aisle on their wedding day?
I’ve worked in tourism in Ohio for 18 years now. And this may anger some of my tourism colleagues when I say this, but Ohio has struggled with a brand. We don’t have Florida’s sunny beaches or the-land-of-the-mouse. We’re not Vegas. We don’t have any Grand Canyons. There’s no “New York Minutes” happening here.
That’s not to say we don’t have wonderful attractions and attributes. Some recognize Ohio for its amusement parks, the Rock Hall of Fame, our Amish country or the breathtaking Hocking Hills region. Central Ohio doesn’t have those landmarks. We are home to Ohio’s capital, but you’ll get different perceptions about Columbus–depending on who you ask across the country. Many just don’t know who we are.
My New York relatives once joked that the show, “The Middle,” must’ve been modeled after our family. In their view, we’re the middle class, living in the middle of the Midwest. Not cosmopolitan. Not big-city-savvy. Average. Forgettable. Ouch.
I was thinking about that this week.
I was thinking about it when I watched complete strangers standing in front of the Westerville Police Department crying for those lost policemen. Bringing flowers. Lighting candles. Leaving signs of love.
I was thinking about it when I watched the Go Fund Me account (set up by the FOP for the officers families) quadruple its original goal within 72 hours.
I was thinking about it as I watched the local, regional, then national news media cover the story … and the outpouring of love and support for those officers—and all emergency personnel.
And I was thinking about it today as I heard about the funeral home procession of those brave men that stopped traffic for miles on our major freeways—as travelers chose to pull over, get out of their cars, stand and honor those fallen officers.
This is who we are in Central Ohio. Far from forgettable.
When tragedy strikes, we’ll be the first ones to show up and cry with you. We’ll pray with you and for you (and not worry if it’s politically correct to do so). We’ll show up with flowers, candles and too much food. We’ll reach deep into our middle-class pockets to donate what we can to that Go Fund Me account, and put our names with our donations. Because we stand behind those who serve us, and we won’t tolerate hate-fueled crimes and those who commit them.
This is who we are. We’ve got you.