Citizens Give Back With “ Barbecue for the Blue”
Several citizens thanked local police officers for their hard work, as the Vidalia Police Department and their families were invited for a barbecue dinner at the Swift Creek Lodge in Vidalia on Thursday, October 19.
The event, which the citizens labeled “Barbecue for the Blue,” was planned by Bernie Nelson, along with Bill Torrance, Matt Oxley, John Blewett, and Joel Thomas, as a method of showing appreciation to the officers for the time and effort they put into protecting the city and its citizens. Officers were invited to enjoy food and fellowship, while also testing their luck for a chance at winning several free door prizes with a total value of $625 that were made possible by sponsors, such as Ricky Mitchell.
“I had an idea several weeks ago to put together this function, so I went to the Chief James Jermon and asked [if we could do this for the Department],” Nelson explained. “We pretty much started from scratch and worked our way forward. He gave me a number of people we could feed at this location, and I began meeting people to try to continued from page
get sponsorships for the event. We got a good many – enough that we could get several nice gift certificates to give out.”
Prior to the meal, the citizens and Chief James Jermon addressed the attendees as they shared the purpose behind the event.
“I just want to share our appreciation from the citizens of Vidalia’s standpoint,” Nelson remarked. “And as you can see from the businesses that sponsored this event, they agree. We all understand without you people, we are nothing. We need you people to stay in unity and protect the citizens of Vidalia. And let me tell you something – I and the people around me will have your backs, and I mean if we have to go and talk to other people in the City, we will.”
He emphasized, “I just want to let you know that we appreciate you.”
Pastor Carl Wardlaw Sr. gave the invocation and the blessing for the occasion, but not before speaking on the importance of law enforcement. “I thank God for the men and women in blue. Without you, the community would be in chaos,” he shared.
Wardlaw continued, “In Romans 13:1-3, it gives us these words. Paul said, ‘Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.”
He elaborated on the verse for the officers and their families by reading from an interpretation he had read prior to the event. “ ‘Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities.’ We struggle with this. In our sinful corruption, we kick against the authorities placed over us. We are called to submit to authorities in every stage of life,” Wardlaw shared. “During our youth, we are under the authority of our parents. While in school, we are under the authority of our school teachers and principal. After obtaining a driver’s license, we are under the authority of the police department, as they patrol the city highways. All our lives, we are under the authority of state and federal government.
“The universal call to submit to authority touches the root of our corruption,” he told the attendees. “Everyone is a sinner, and every sin is an act of revolt against authority. If we respected the authority of God perfectly, we would never sin. Sin is a refusal to submit to the governing authority of God Himself. God knows if we are not willing to submit to Him, it is more difficult to submit to the police department, the government, and other authorities that rule over us. It is the duty of every Christian to be subjective to the authority.”
Wardlaw then expanded on this interpretation. “You are ordained by God,” he told the officers. “The police department is ordained by God – and I think that is powerful. I am really thankful for our police.”
Toombs County Commissioner Wendell Dixon also spoke of his gratitude toward the Vidalia Police Department, as he said, “You all put your lives on the line every day for us, and we appreciate what you’re doing. Thank y’all for what you do.”
Citizen Bill Torrance added, “What I like about this event is that all it is intended to do is say, ‘Thank you,’ and to recognize you all for the hard job that you do. I know the Chief is working hard to fill vacancies in the Department and find people who are willing to do the job. So, when you have young folks who are looking for a career, don’t hesitate to tell them [about] or send them to Vidalia Police Department – it’s a good place to make a career. I just want to say thank you personally.”
Vidalia City Councilman John Raymond Turner was also in attendance at the event and joined in the message of gratitude. “I’m proud to be here, and I always am a supporter of the Vidalia Police Department and I always will be,” he emphasized.
Chief Jermon responded as the messages of thankfulness continued to fill the air. “Heartfelt thanks to this group – I don’t think you guys really fathom what this group is doing collectively; I don’t think you guys really understand it, but I do,” he told the officers and citizens. “When you have [Nelson] come to my house and be sincere with this, it is incredible. I know everyone has heard of random acts of kindness – that’s what this is, but it is also an appreciation of what you guys do each and every day.”
He continued, “I don’t care where you go, you hear horror stories about other departments. We don’t have those horror stories. We may fight among each other within that building [(Vidalia Police Department Headquarters)], but when we hit that pavement, it is strictly business, and that is from my office down to the runaround.
“Take this and remind yourself that when you don’t think people really care about us [officers], there are people who really, really care,” he stressed. “I thank you guys, Mr. Bernie. I really appreciate it.”
The night continued with a time of fellowship and conversation, as the citizens mingled with the officers.