One thing we’ve continued to learn in a profound way since 2020 is that people are meant to do life together. Unavoidable social distancing, telecommuting choices and polarizing opinions undoubtedly have hurt our relations with one another and contributed to mental health and emotional challenges. We have to find a way to focus, now more than ever, on our in-person interactions with each other.
Now, being a police chief does not make me a psychological expert, but working in law enforcement for nearly 32 years has provided a great deal of exposure to pain and suffering that I see in people’s lives on a daily basis. We are seeing these tragedies too often, and we desperately need relief.
A polarizing time in our country now provides us an opportunity to find ways to connect and work together. On June 19, 1865 — 2½ years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued — 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, and freed more than 250,000 slaves in that state by executive decree. This day came to be known as Juneteenth and has been celebrated since. The nationally recognized holiday marks a significant milestone in history, as it recognizes words written 89 years earlier in the Declaration of Independence: “… that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
In past articles, I have referenced how we should take advantage of the opportunities to share time together at community gatherings. It is good for all of us and helps to build community. In 2021, the Kennesaw Police Department, along with my advisory board, hosted the first One Community: A Juneteenth Celebration of Unity in Kennesaw. This year, we will host the third annual event on June 17, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., at Swift-Cantrell Park. We want you to come be a part of the fun as we endeavor to build unity. The celebration will begin with a short Unity Walk through the park at 11 a.m., followed by delicious food, games and good times together. Please join us!
Until next time, stay safe.
– Bill Westenberger has served as chief since 2008. He was given the 2019 Kennesaw Citizen of the Year Award.