A week ago, the country struggled as divisiveness spread across America. Videos on television news networks showed angry groups protesting against what they felt was a political injustice.
This week, the struggle in Newton County went well beyond political dividedness, name calling, bullying and pettiness.
Our community didn’t struggle this week, it suffered. Collectively, we grieved. And we will continue to grieve.
On the heels of hearing about how horrible things were (or were going to become) because of the results of an election, Newton County was struck with real horror. We won’t be able to wait and see what happens. We won’t get a reprieve from our grief. It will forever be a part of Newton County.
A deputy sheriff’s officer died Tuesday morning after fighting for his life after an accident on his way to an emergency call in October.
One of the men and women sworn to protect us; one of many who head out the door daily not knowing what dangers they may face in order to help complete strangers; one of many who deals with apathy and hatred from those who have never met them personally; one of our very own died in the service of Newton County.
The flags at Newton County buildings were at half-mast, signaling to all a time of mourning.
We were reminded this week how fragile things are. Newton County Deputy Justin White went to work on Oct. 30 thinking he would have Oct. 31 to hug his girlfriend and be with his daughter. Instead, he spent the next few weeks in the intensive care unit of an Atlanta hospital while doctors waited for him to heal enough to perform surgery.
Justin White didn’t heal, and on Tuesday an announcement was made that took the air out of Newton County.
That evening, Justin White’s Captain, Sammy Banks, held back tears as he spoke to the Newton County Board of Commissioners. His voice cracked as he spoke of the duty of the men and women who wear the uniform of the sheriff’s office.
“We put our lives on the line every day for the citizens of the county and we will continue,” Banks said to the board. “We will still be here no matter what day of the week it is.” Our sheriff’s office will continue to work as it always has.
We as a community must take pause to acknowledge and remember what is truly important.
When it comes time to point fingers, cast stones, post incriminating messages, speak badly about our neighbor or ignore each other’s pains, we must remember. We must remember Deputy White and all who one day do not make it home.
Life is fragile. What we see on the national news often obscures that. Life truly is made up of moments. Moments that can be fleeting or can slowly slip away.
If we remember what matters every day, and remember those like Deputy Justin White, our moments will be worth more. Those moments will gain importance. They will become the sum of our lives not lived in vain.
We can remember Justin White by keeping his family in our thoughts and prayers. One way to show that is by donating to help Morgan White, Deputy Justin White’s girlfriend, through a fund set up by the family. Donations can be made at any branch of Bank of North Georgia by making a secure deposit to the “Deputy Justin White Memorial Fund.”
For those who are not near a bank branch, donations can also be mailed to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office. Address the letters in attention to the Deputy Justin White Memorial Fund at 15151 Alcovy Road, Covington, GA 30014. The memo section of checks or money orders should be made out to Justin White.
An online donation site has also been set up at https://www.gofundme.com/2wsscic.
It is moments like these where Newton County rises above and defines ourselves not as individual groups of divided people, but as a united community.