By Joe Rector

Well, it appears that July 4th fireworks took on a new meaning in Lonsdale. Officers were attacked when they tried to stop individuals who thought firing the explosives at cars passing by would be more entertaining. According to reports, the fireworks weren’t the traditional firecrackers or sparklers or even cherry bombs. These were the ones that are used to light up a celebratory sky.

Now, before anyone takes offense that I wrote disparagingly about Lonsdale, read on. My dad worked at Southern Extract from the time he got out of the army until he died some 30 years later. His parents lived on Louisiana Avenue for years. My grandmother later moved to a house on Minnesota Avenue, and then she even lived in an apartment in College Homes. I spent hours walking the sidewalks in Lonsdale, a treat for a young’un from the country, and about once every month, Daddy loaded us boys into the car for a trip to Cooper and Baldwin’s Barbershop on Tennessee Avenue for a buzz cut. (He always told us he “didn’t like anyone with long hair and dirty shoes.”)

So, I do have fond memories of the community, although I know it has drastically changed over the past few years. Many factors have caused those downturns, but the government hasn’t been the only contributing agent. I don’t pretend to understand the problems of inner-city living and poverty; I’ve been blessed with a good life.

What has my blood boiling is the behaviors of those in the crowd on July 4th who attacked others. Then some of the morons, yes, I mean “morons,” attacked an officer who was attempting to apprehend one of the perpetrators. Folks cry for help in protecting their neighborhoods, but then turn on the very ones who are trying to do so. What gives?

I’m also blown away at the lack of respect for law enforcement officers who place themselves in life-threatening situations to make communities safer places. Yes, officers do sometimes make mistakes, but overall, police officers do wonderful, heroic jobs that deserve our appreciation and admiration.

Our country suffers right now from a lack of respect. Too many of our countrymen don’t understand what the word means. It is an act of showing acceptance and thanks and admiration to others who have put something bigger than themselves first. Respect also deals with appreciating the sacrifices that individuals make in order to protect the weaker of us.

Respect also has much to do with self. Self-respect comes from hard work on reaching lofty goals that bring individuals and others up. It comes from empathy for those in different situations. Self-respect also is a product of self-control, the restraining ourselves from doing or participating in things that we know are hurtful, harmful, or just plain wrong.

The time has come for all of us to show some respect to the civil servants who work so hard to protect us from a myriad of bad things. We all can work on improving. Today, however, I am calling out the residents of Lonsdale. I’m asking if they have the courage to turn their community around. Are they ready to get rid of the individuals who prey on others? Are they ready to demand that the violence end and that new relationships between community and police begins? I hope so because I am ashamed of the recent ridiculous behavior that has taken place there.