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We all have role to play following tragedy

Maybe you didn’t know them. Maybe you had seen them on patrol once. Maybe they had visited your child’s school for first responders day. Maybe you had passed them in Walmart. Or in the grocery store. Or in a restaurant.

You may not have known Zach Moak and James White, but that doesn’t mean you are not hurting. Brookhaven and Lincoln County — all of it — is hurting right now.

It’s unthinkable that Brookhaven and Lincoln County are again mourning the death of two brave men killed in the line of duty. Most communities go a lifetime or two without experiencing this. And now it has happened twice in the past 18 months.

There is sadness, anger, despair, confusion and pain. That’s what those of us who didn’t know Moak and White are feeling. Those who worked with them, their families and friends — their loss is greater than the rest of us can ever know.

Those who knew them best must now navigate life with a piece missing. They won’t be there for birthday parties, Christmas celebrations, graduations, weddings — the list of missed events is endless. There will always be a void at the Brookhaven Police Department.

In the face of such tragedy, we often feel helpless. But we are not. There is much that can be done. And, yes, even those of us who didn’t know them have a role to play in helping this community, and their families, recover.

We can pray. We can hug. We can shake hands. We can reach out. We can cook meals. We can honor them at vigils and on road sides. We can remember their sacrifice. We can memorialize them. We can follow in their footsteps and serve others. And we come together, across racial and political lines, to show our respect to Moak and White.

We don’t have to have known them personally to help. Just as we didn’t have to know them personally to be impacted by this tragedy.

It will be weeks before life returns to normal in Brookhaven. For the police department, it may never return to normal. For Moak’s and White’s families, it certainly won’t.

Don’t forget them as you process how or why this unimaginable horror has visited this community once again. It will take all of us working together to help Brookhaven recover.