Potential for danger requires public, personal heroism

Nothing good ever comes of violence. – Martin Luther

We live in an age, in an era where there is … so much violence in the world … – Elton John

The main goal of the future is to stop violence. The world is addicted to it. – Bill Cosby

Violence and war lead only to death. – Pope Francis

We shall not yield to violence. – Lech Walesa

It was just a box of papers. For that we give thanks.

The suspicious package at the historic Coweta County Courthouse on Wednesday morning shut down the downtown Newnan business district. People sipping cups of coffee at Redneck Gourmet, shopping for a gift a Morgan Jewelers, picking up supplies at Cook’s Office Equipment, reading a magazine at the Carnegie – in other words, going about their normal routines – were evacuated.

We do indeed live in an era where there is so much violence in our world. A box left by a door, once an innocuous and commonplace image, has now become a possibly sinister threat.

We all know why this is so – and why we must be vigilant and careful. Just a few examples:

• the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963. On a September Sunday morning, four girls – getting ready for a church program – were killed by a bomb planted by white supremacists.

• the Fraunces Tavern bombing in 1975. Four businessmen – including two from out of town who stopped at the Revolutionary War era restaurant in downtown New York – died. A Puerto Rican extremist nationalist group claimed responsibility.

• the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in 1996. The death of Alice Hawthorne, who was at the park to celebrate the Olympics, cast a pall over the entire Olympic experience and has become part of the legacy of the time for Georgians.

• the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. On what should have been a day of community celebration, two pressure cooker bombs exploded – killing three and injuring more than 260 others.

Combine these – and similar experiences – with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and shootings at schools across the country and we have a stark reminder that the demented and depraved are among us. Violence can indeed be just around the corner, whether we are at a big community celebration or simply stopping for lunch on a busy workday.

It turns out the box on Wednesday was not a danger, but the event has some further lessons for us. Sheriff Mike Yeager and Police Chief Buster Meadows stood side by side as the investigation took place. GBI specialists were called in. There was no jockeying for credit – simply a demonstrable desire to make sure the public would be safe and secure.

Moments after it was determined there was no danger, life returned to normal. Shoppers, workers and visitors picked up their “to do” lists and started checking off errands once again. We celebrate Public Safety Appreciation Day, but Wednesday reminds us why.

We also are reminded of what freedom requires, that we must pick up in the face of possible danger – and truly live.





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