On Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, at 10:00 a.m., hundreds of people came together on the historic steps of the Coles County Courthouse in Charleston, Illinois, to give thanks to the first responders who work tirelessly to provide security to our communities.
People from throughout the East Central Illinois came together for this one common cause of supporting our communities and giving thanks to those who provide us with a safe place to live, work, and attend school.
Flags adorned the makeshift stage where music was played, speakers addressed the audience, and singer Scott Wattles sang for the crowd.
Retired Master Sergeant Rory Steidl addressed the crowd and gave an inspiring speech of a community that comes together to include everyone, excluding no one.
Master Sergeant Steidl became understandably emotional when speaking of friends and co-workers who had been killed in the line of duty, officers who gave everything because they put community above themselves.
Mike Neal, retired assistant warden for Illinois Department of Corrections, spoke about the one group that stands between anarchy and law and order, the Thin Blue Line.
Reverend Dan Haifley of the Maranatha Baptist Church was present and spoke about the divine duty of self-governance, and how society is intended to police itself in an honest, fair, and orderly fashion; these are all reasons that we come together.
Veterans and officers retired from law enforcement were publicly recognized. Some could not help but notice that some of the rally goers were combat veterans who had been injured while fighting in defense of our country. Thank you to them also.
Jesse Danley, Coles County state’s attorney, spoke about his appreciation for working with the men and women of law enforcement of this area, and how he values their work and recognizes their commitment to all members of society. It was recognized that law enforcement is not a standing army; instead, they are our neighbors, friends, and family members. They provide a necessary and difficult service.
As the event came to a close, and people were leaving, a counter culture appeared to demonstrate what society looks like without morals and mutual respect. The group provided a contrast to the orderly, patriotic event.
Some of its members were screaming profanities and hate-filled rhetoric in the face of young mothers with little children present. People who know nothing about our community seemed intent on vilifying people whom they do not even know. While it was a sad sight to see, this type of attitude provided an example of what society should never reflect.
All in all, it was a great morning of fellowship, patriotic music, and the witnessing of a community that came together for a genuinely great cause. Thank you again to the men and women of law enforcement and all first responders for their sacrifice and dedication to community and nation.