“Sand Dunes and Salty Air”

WordPress is a domain where anyone in the world may browse and read. Today my soul feels shattered as I reflect on the area where I reside, following a tragic event which occurred yesterday afternoon. I ask visitors to bear with me as I sort myself through writing, which is the only true avenue to ever bring me genuine peace. I share my Blog via my personal Facebook page. This article is dedicated to my home and to my community.

A thirty-two year old K9 Police Officer was killed in the line of duty yesterday afternoon. Sean Gannon was an eight year Patrolman of the Yarmouth Police Department and served in other capacities beforehand. It has been disclosed that he leaves behind a Wife and a plethora of public involvements. He was part of the “Big Brothers, Big Sisters” organization and loved by many. He was dedicated to the uniform he wore and all it stood for. I have read one does not simply become a K9 Officer; it takes intense training and loyalty for this acknowledgement to come to fruition. The Chief of the YPD expressed that Officer Gannon embodied these characteristics which is how his title came to be.

Officer Gannon was at a residence in the village of Marston’s Mills to issue a warrant. He was shot in the head. Injured also was his K9 Officer, Nero. This brave man in blue sacrificed his life in service to our town. Nero is currently clinging to his canine life. I knew neither the man nor the animal involved. It doesn’t mean I don’t care. It doesn’t mean a piece of me fails to grieve. And that’s alright. I didn’t have to know them directly. Relationships, whether personal or not, are what tie us together in compassion.

Growing up on Cape Cod I often heard the statement, “The Cape is a small place“. As yesterday afternoon unfolded, this brought life to that very proclamation. Our peninsula, though endowed with visitors throughout the summer months, is a tight-knit territory of native and wash-ashore inhabitants. Living in the town of Barnstable for forty-two years, I know people from the bridges to the tip. We either went to school together or we worked together or I know them from my food service employments. In any case, I constantly see familiar faces. Gathering decades in this area, I feel a strong connection to it.

In addition, I associate with several male and female law enforcement personnel. In our society there is a lot of negativity surrounding these badges and I’m not sure why anyone would willingly elect to wear one. Unfortunately, our world has begun to categorize entities as “all good” or “all bad“. In the case of Police Officers, the negative actions of a few sprouted the idea that each one of them will respond poorly. What a shame. None of the Officers I know fit this classification. They have families like I do. They have lives like mine. They are human beings who chose a career to serve and protect. And they aren’t always met with support nor admiration. I know not of their daily struggles or of the challenges they face or of the scenes they process. What I do know is I am not a person who judges all on the actions of some.

Imagine for a moment, instead of going to your regular job, you dress in garments containing a gun and handcuffs and a bullet-proof vest. Before this honor is bestowed, you must first endure grueling Academy training. Thereafter, your mode of transportation becomes a vehicle capable of high speeds with advanced technological communications. You proceed into situations most run from. You bid goodbye to your loved ones who pray for your safe return. Strangers yell at you, equating your status to that of a swine. People mock when the lives of your comrades end. Yet, you go to work. Every damn day. Still hoping to make a difference.

Examine what it might be like to strive to remove criminals from the streets, only to have our judicial system set them free. Officer Gannon [along with additional backup] was on a block here where most folks would never imagine such a horrific episode transpiring. It’s residential. An area regarded as decent. Who would think there might be an armed suspect in an attic? Who would believe someone could be shot and killed on this stretch of pavement? Honestly, not me. But it happened. A man with over one hundred previous offenses was staying on a street with children and mothers and fathers; with grandparents and pets and a daycare and schools nearby. Why? How? What allowed justice to not place this dangerous assailant behind bars? It no longer matters. What does is that it resulted in the death of a courageous young man. And my heart broke.

This situation was visible on television news and appeared across social media. It was  everywhere! Real and brutal. Elementary School students had their busses diverted to secure locations. Parents couldn’t retrieve their children from a local childcare center as it was on lockdown. People were unable to return to their homes. A woman I know lives across the street from the crime scene. She was interviewed by reporters and explained when told to vacate due to safety, she immediately fled with her son. Barefoot. I know others who live in this neighborhood, as well. It was too much to wrap my head around. So I cried for everyone involved.

Today is a new day. We wake, albeit dazed. Our community is traumatized. Surely the Cape is not immune to this type of action, but circumstances such as this are not a daily broadcast. Perhaps this lends itself to why it is so difficult to comprehend: since we don’t deal with it frequently we haven’t become desensitized. I listened to a local radio station this morning (@danandstephanie) and was grateful to hear the male and female co-hosts share their views and use their platform for expression instead of carrying out business as usual. They were compassionate and professional. On Facebook I was pleased to hear a local male (@jtchronicles) attempt to shine positivity even in this period of trial. He never fails to enlighten. Taking bits and pieces from items I’ve read and heard, here is where I stand…

Whenever misfortune strikes, my faith in decency is restored. I believe it is human nature to merge during chaos. My community has done exactly this. Friends from far and wide have changed profile pictures and cover photos in support of our region. Funds have been established for donations. Buildings of worship are available for guidance. Radio stations keep lines open so voices may be heard. People are talking. But then what?

Not that anyone has forgotten 911, not that anyone fails to remember bombings and other crucial events, but those critical moments cannot last. They would cripple our society. So what do we do? How can we make a real difference?

Make your actions matter. Write to the legislature and express your positions. Teach our children that saying something isn’t snitching if it saves lives. Cherish the small stuff, like a captivating sunset. Listen to the birds. Stop and smell the flowers. Hold doors. Use manners. Lead by example and let kindness be your guide. Most importantly, do all this without the need for recognition.

Days will turn to weeks and weeks to months. We will rise above this travesty, better and stronger than before. Not if we don’t recognize our blessings, though. If we are granted the opportunity to open our eyes the next morning, we must set forth to be more than we were the previous day. For me, this means honoring my family and friends. It means even when pressed for time, I stop and wave a car ahead of me in traffic. They may have a destination to reach more important than my own. It means assisting a senior citizen in an endeavor or teaching a skill to someone coping with hardship. It means smiling more and striving to complain less. It means being a leader where I’m able and being a mentor when necessary. I am only one single person. We all are. But envision the individual influences we can bring to the world. Then, help to change it.

May God bless the emergency departments of Cape Cod. Today. And always.





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