All the snow and cold weather that has plagued our little community the last few months got me thinking about the warm, ocean breezes of Florida. Since I was a junior in high school, I have visited Florida at least once every year and it is always an annual highlight for me.
During my first trip to Florida, I got to spend a couple of very special days with my mother?s cousin who used to be the police chief of the Cocoa Beach Police Department before he retired a few years ago. Between the jail tours, a mock police investigation that he had me endure, the hundreds of questions I asked him about being a cop, and how many times he had to chase down the bad guys, I got to really appreciate first-hand what my mom?s cousin did for a living and how his job impacted the community.
Brian was a man to be respected. He was in charge of a large team of men and women, but also had a duty to his children and his wife. As Brian drove me around Cocoa Beach and introduced me to various members of the community, I got to hear stories of things that Brian and his team of officers had done to keep people safe and make sure those who wanted to do harm failed.
Brian was someone people depended on to keep them safe and sound, and it was never lost on me how that weight must have laid heavy on Brian every day. I can?t imagine having that kind of responsibility?and choosing to have it nonetheless.
Thinking about my cousin Brian reminds me of just how important the men and women of our local law enforcement and those in our military are to our communities. In general, we only seem to celebrate our veterans once a year during Veteran?s Day, but is that really all that they deserve? What about our local police officers and sheriffs? Even firefighters are a part of keeping our communities happy and healthy.
Tonight, and as you go into your weekend, remind yourself the freedom and safety that we have in our little southeast Iowa towns don?t come easy. Every day, brave men and women are putting their lives on the line for us. If you are like me and can?t join the military, be a police officer, or serve as a firefighter, be extra grateful there are people out there willing to serve when others like you and I cannot.
In closing, I want to give a big shout out and thank you to Mark, Brandy, Kate, Clint, Gary, Andrew, Ben, Angie, Lisa and Brian. These are just a few of my heroes and heroines I am fortunate enough to call my friends and family.
So, who are yours? Chances are, you don?t have to think very hard. Hometown heroes are all around us. Visit your local veteran?s hall, police station, sheriff?s office, fire station or military recruitment office to find even more.
Next time you see a serviceman or woman, a member of the local law enforcement, or see a firefighter out doing their job, give them the space and cooperation they need to serve our community. Most importantly, however, show them respect and let them know how important and precious their daily sacrifice is to you.
Don?t forget to say thank you. It?s not a lot, but a sincere thanks goes a long way.