The church I attend, New Hope Community Church, hosts a yearly banquet thanking our community’s civil servants and first responders. The program is in honor of National Police Week. While this was the church’s 15th annual event, it was the second year I have been invited to photograph this special banquet. Formal invitations are sent out. The church hires a locally well-known chef to prepare the meal. The tables are set with linens and beautifully decorated. The stage is set with police and fire apparel. There is a special space set aside to remember those who gave their lives. As people begin to arrive, they are welcomed into the beautifully set room. Soon, appetizers are being walked around. I can feel the camaraderie among the different services that are represented. They are all hugging and smiling when greeting each other. Often these groups of people are together because of a tragic event. This evening is set aside so that they can be served and thanked. There is a group there that are still on-duty. A table is set in the back so they can leave if they get a call. Another fire truck stops by between calls to get a to-go meal. Soon, the meal is ready to be served. This meal includes chicken, filet mignon, fresh vegetables, delicious bread and so much more. After dinner is served, a program begins starting with a video of fun photos captured at different community events during the year. This video brings lots of laughs and smiles. Then, the room grows still, and we pause for silence for those that gave their lives. A the video begins that has photos of all the men, women and first responder dogs that are no longer here. Photos are so powerful. You can see a person, a person that has given their life to save another. A person that has a family of their own. A person that is missed by their family and friends. I am touched at such a powerful reminder about how important photos truly are. They help you grieve, remember and celebrate at the same time. Lastly, our pastor asks a representative of each group to lay a yellow rose in remembrance for their branch of service.
These men and women give so much to our communities. They are always there to help us when we find ourselves in need of their services. I appreciate so much that they are ready and willing to help anyone!