By MARK SARDELLA
In the wake of this week’s exercise in democracy, members of the belt and shoelaces crowd have been consoling each other on social media by sharing ways to cope with their overwhelming stress by working to make our planet a better place before they give up and move to Canada.
Of course, none of these suggested activities involve supporting veterans or law enforcement. So I’ve decided to rectify that. (I’m nothing if not helpful.)
If you’ve been through the downtown or Greenwood in the last few weeks, you’ve seen them, but you may not have known what they were all about — those big blue ribbons and bows hanging from signposts, utility poles and trees.
A few Saturdays ago, several dozen wives, family members, friends and supporters of local and state police went around and hung the blue ribbons as a show of support for the men and women in blue.
Such gestures never used to be necessary. It was an article of faith, a given, that people respected and appreciated the police.
But we are living in a topsy-turvy world.
I’m reminded of the old Rolling Stones lyric from Sympathy for the Devil: “Just as every cop is a criminal and all the sinners saints.” That’s how some in influential segments of the popular culture still view things today. They want us to believe that the police are the bad guys.
The Stones may have actually believed those words when they wrote them in the 1960s. It was they, after all, who hired the Hells Angels to provide security at their concerts. What could possibly go wrong? Well, some kid ended up getting stabbed to death by an Angel at their concert in Altamont Speedway in California. That ugly Concert at Altamont is widely regarded as the day the Age of Aquarius, which had reached its peak at Woodstock, came crashing to an end.
At least something good came out of Altamont.
Meanwhile, this week the voters of Massachusetts fulfilled the other half of the Stones cynical prophesy by legitimizing and welcoming a whole new drug industry to our state. We used to have a word for those who promoted and profited from providing the means for people to get high. We called them “criminals.” Now, we call them captains of industry. (We haven’t quite gotten around to canonizing the pushers yet, but give it time.)
“It’s a beautiful world we live in,” as the 1980s band, Devo, once ironically sang. (Millennials are frantically Googling “Rolling Stones” and “Devo.”)
Despite the impression you might get from some segments of the popular culture, the vast majority of the people do not regard the police as the enemy. So it was the people that took the grass roots initiative to show support for law enforcement by initiating the Blue Ribbon Campaign.
It began after State Trooper Thomas Clardy was killed last March when a medical marijuana “patient,” wasted on weed, drifted across three lanes on the Mass. Pike in Charlton and crashed at high speed into Trooper Clardy’s cruiser as he was conducting a vehicle stop. Officer Clardy left a wife and six kids. His grieving wife cut a video spot begging the voters of Massachusetts not to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Obviously, the voters didn’t listen.
Following Trooper Clardy’s death, a group of State Police wives got together to form a support group. Out of that group and in response to violence against police nationwide, came the Blue Ribbon Campaign to demonstrate support for law enforcement.
Wakefield and State Police won’t come out and say it themselves, because they think it would seem self-serving.
So I’ll do it for them.
I know for a fact that it would mean a lot to local police if Wakefield residents started hanging blue ribbons on their homes and on trees and poles in their own neighborhoods. Imagine if not just the downtown but every neighborhood in town became a sea of blue in appreciation for the job that police do and the danger they face every day.
Blue ribbon material isn’t expensive or hard to come by. Maybe you already have some in your home. Go out and tie a blue bow on the fence in front of your house or hang one from your mailbox or on a tree on your street.
What if one of our local florists or craft stores were to create some pre-made blue bows and advertise their availability? I’m confident the people of Wakefield would respond big time and they’d be big sellers.
There’s one more easy thing you can do before you board the train to Toronto or join Greenpeace.
You can attend the Veterans’ Day ceremonies in Veterans Memorial Auditorium at the Galvin Middle School at 11 a.m. tomorrow. It’s only one hour out of your day but it would mean a lot to the people who are the guardians of our society.
It might even make you feel better.