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Ceremony honoring local law enforcement led by young and old

Young and old community members joined together in a ceremony at Oak Park Retirement community to honor local law enforcement on Tuesday. In the lyrics sung by Salisbury Academy’s fourth- and fifth-graders and in the words of the event’s speakers, the message was a heart-felt one: Thank you for your service. You are our heroes.

The event commenced with a concert of patriotic and inspirational songs sung by the student guests, from “Amazing Grace” to “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” with messages delivered by speakers including Mayor Paul Woodson, retired Catawba College professor Karl Hales, and Rowan County commissioners Chairman Greg Edds.

“We know what you go through. We support you,” said Woodson. “Keep doing the good things that you’re doing.”

Plaques honoring local law enforcement were presented to Police Chief Rory Collins and Sheriff Kevin Auten, as 23 local law enforcement members, 80 Oak Park residents and the Salisbury Academy students and teachers looked on.

Among the residents intently watching was retired auxiliary policewoman Lorraine Regene, age 92, along with several other residents who at one point served as law enforcement. Oak Park manager Cliff Robinson recognized these individuals and thanked them.

“Nobody at Oak Park knows that I was with the police department,” said Regene. “My service means a lot to me. I enjoyed every moment.”

The inspiration for the ceremony of appreciation came from Oak Park residents who have in recent months read news stories criticizing law enforcement members in cities across the country, explains Karen Leonard, activities director for the retirement community.

“Our residents grew up in an era where they respected their law enforcement greatly,” said Leonard. “They wanted to do something positive, to honor their local law enforcement.”

The ceremony was also an opportunity for the residents to model their respect for the younger generations, Oak Park manager Marie Robinson shares.

“It was heartwarming, having the older people reinforcing to the children how important it is to have a good relationship with those who serve and protect us.”

Auten, Collins and the law enforcement members present expressed their profound gratitude for the support of the Oak Park residents and staff, and the larger Salisbury-Rowan community.

“We love you and we’re here for you,” said Collins.

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