It has been difficult over the past few weeks to turn on the television without seeing the fallout from a particular NFL star’s refusal to stand during our national anthem. While I understand this is his constitutional right, one man’s actions do not reflect the attitude of a grateful nation.
Many people in the entertainment world like to equate the NFL season to a 16-plus-week war, in which the soldiers sacrifice their minds and bodies to play a game. I have no doubt this particular NFL star prepares like any other quarterback, working on his footwork to avoid the linebacker that might blindside him after a missed block.
Much like this preparation, our law enforcement officers and first responders spend hours on end improving their skills for different scenarios. But in the real world their foe is something much more sinister.
In my time as lieutenant governor, I have had the opportunity to travel our state and meet law enforcement officers and members of our armed services who wear our flag proudly every day. Through these experiences, I have gained a better understanding of the challenges faced not only by these brave men and women, but also their families.
HUSBANDS AND WIVES, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters all face the real fear of being blindsided with the news of their loved ones not coming home.
In the wake of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, I challenge each of you to stand up and remember the rights afforded to us by these individuals who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Every day, all around this great state, thousands of men and women report to work with a seemingly impossible task: Protect and serve Georgia’s 10 million residents, often putting their own lives in jeopardy. These are the unsung heroes of our society – the people who arrive at accident scenes to provide medical help for you or injured loved ones, or the officers who arrive at your houses to protect your families in your greatest time of need.
It’s easy to take for granted the impact law enforcement officers have on our lives. We go about our daily schedules, expressing frustration and annoyance when officers ticket us for speeding or driving violations – without realizing the same speeders, by the grace of God, were stopped before they caused accidents. Sometimes we lose sight of the instrumental role officers play in our society – until we find ourselves in a critical situation dependent on their care, guidance and protection.
GEORGIANS SUCH AS Maj. Gregory Barney (Riverdale Police Department), Officer Timothy Smith (Eastman Police Department) and Investigator Anthony “T.J.” Freeman (Bibb County Sheriff’s Office), went to work this year, just like any other day. They had families, friends and loved ones. They had hopes, dreams and goals for the future. They answered the call to serve, putting the needs of others ahead of their own – and they made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
This reality exists in stark contrast to grisly events that occurred in Dallas, Baton Rouge, La., and right here at home in Valdosta – along with many other places where our officers have become the targets of senseless violence.
As lieutenant governor, I remain an ardent supporter of guaranteeing that our law enforcement officers have all the necessary tools they need to adequately do their jobs. Most importantly, I am committed to ensuring each and every man and woman who wears a badge has the support of citizens across our state and our nation.
Join me in standing with the men and women who protect and serve the citizens of this great state. With the 15th anniversary of Sept. 11 fresh in our memories, I hope you will honor these brave men and women who go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure our safety daily.
(The writer has been Georgia’s lieutenant governor since 2007.)