What a year this has been for all of us. But I am so proud of how the Dayton area has stood so tall in all of its challenges and especially how proud Dayton and its citizens have made me and others with their recent actions.
I don’t have to remind you, but I will, of the pressure put on us about a Ku Klux Klan affiliated hate group wanting to rally in downtown Dayton on May 25, or the dozen tornadoes that hit our region three days later on Memorial Day evening; or the violent shootings in the Oregon District on August 4; and yes the recent killing of Dayton Police Detective Jorge Del Rio.
Any and all of these could have brought a lesser community to its knees … but not us.
You will notice, each involved our area first responders. And each time the community rallied to the aid of its neighbors and also to those men and women who serve us each day; those who run toward conflict or disasters … not away from them.
I am a baby boomer and one that came out of the 60s and the Vietnam era. I can remember reading about positive support for our military upon their return from World War I, World War II and the Korean conflict. But not Vietnam. Many of my classmates returned with scorn even though they were serving their country in a war that they either voluntarily joined or were drafted. My brother-in-law was a Vietnam vet who was deeply hurt by that loss of pride shown to our men and women in uniform upon his return. It was only during his eulogy in 2014 that I was able to share how much better he had felt about our nation’s pride in our heroes since the Gulf Wars.
Things since seemed to have been getting better, but recently some other cities have turned against some of our first responders. That has left me embarrassed by their actions and lack of respect. BUT NOT DAYTON!
Oh sure, we had a few moments of criticism, but mostly just minor issues with law enforcement and rarely with individuals in uniform. There was no more prideful a time recently when we showed our Midwestern respect for the loss of local Detective Jorge Del Rio who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. The outpouring during his viewing, funeral and procession was truly moving. Daytonians stood in long lines or along the procession route to show their heartfelt respect and shared grief along with his family and his Brothers in blue. I was truly proud to be a Daytonian.
I can’t imagine that we would ever return back to the days of throwing anything at our own first responder heroes and guardians of our freedoms. They each deserve our deepest and sincerest thanks. I hope we will never stoop to the low some other cities have in their disrespect of these brave men and women. God, I ask please forbid that from ever happening to us in Dayton.
Dayton is Strong. But it is strong for a lot of really good, honorable reasons and stronger because our people, our neighbors, family, friends and others are strong. No doubt we all wish for a much less stressful 2020. I get that. But even if we continue to be challenged, my faith tells me that my God will never give us more than we can handle … I believe we can still handle it and hope you believe that, too.
Phillip L. Parker, CAE, CCE
President and CEO
Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce