Like many of you, I started hearing rumors of a tragedy in our community last Sunday night, and, while I did not want to believe it, that reality was confirmed Monday morning when I arrived at work and read the initial report from the police department.
I know that it has been a rough few days for the entire community, and I have no way to even imagine the kind of feelings that a family in our community is experiencing right now.
For whatever it is worth to you at this moment, just know that I, and a lot of other people, are thinking about and praying for you.
After I received that initial confirmation, I took a drive down to Ramsey Park with the intent of just seeing for myself that physical sign of this tragic event. I went assuming I would run into an orange barrier at the east park entrance, but, rather than being stopped there I was able to proceed down the hill and past a few vehicles, including those marked as law enforcement, at the overlook across from the golf course.
Then I observed the barricade on the swayback bridge, and that is when the reality hit. Along the bridge were several local emergency personnel who were standing and watching the river.
I pulled my car into a spot at the zoo and took a walk down to the swayback bridge. There I was greeted by friendly faces from the local fire department.
I have always felt a deep appreciation for those who serve in roles as police officers, firefighters or other emergency personnel, but after this week that level of respect for what they are doing has increased dramatically.
Since Sunday night there have been people standing watch on that bridge every single hour.
Many of these individuals have jobs they set aside to serve their community on a regular basis, and those who are called to protect and serve are putting in long hours living up to that.
I know many of the people who have been standing on that bridge, as well as those who have been flying the drone and walking the banks of the river, and what I can say is that each of them is not there because they have to be.
They want to be, because they care.
Many of them have kids of their own, and I think at some level they can empathize with the feelings others much more closely tied to this tragic event are experiencing.
For them this has become very personal.
You can be certain that all of these folks are doing everything they possibly can, and if they could they would be doing even more.
To each one of you who has been standing watch I want to express my thanks for going beyond what any of you likely imagined you would be doing when you took on this community service role.
I am constantly amazed what I learn about the people in our community, but at the same time I am never really surprised by it.