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Public safety funerals honor servants of community
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I, like most folks, usually take the Soundoff column in the Herald each day with a grain of salt. Everyone is entitled to their opinions; however, one of these opinions expressed in Thursday's paper took me by surprise.

The opinion concerned the funeral escort for my father, Herman Akins, on Aug. 29. It asked whether the emergency services personnel and equipment involved were all for "just one fireman?" It went on to state that this was "not a good use of resources." While I am of the opinion that his "just" being a father of two, "just" being a husband of over 40 years, and "just" being a veteran of the Vietnam War warranted a large funeral service, the "just one fireman" comment caused me to write this letter in response.

Your local emergency services personnel (fire, law enforcement, EMS personnel) enter into their chosen professions for a variety of reasons, but with certain understandings of what their service entails and what it entitles them to. Most understand that they will lose countless hours with family, will be center stage for tragic events, and will do so risking injury or death should the situation come to that. They also understand that a public safety profession will neither make them rich nor grant them anyone's thanks, for the most part. In return for faithful service, our emergency services personnel ask to make a salary from which they can support a family, ask to have the chance at a retirement someday, and ask that their family be cared for and their service honored at the time of their death.

Public safety funerals have developed over time and may involve honor guards, escorts, the retiring of badge numbers, etc. These things honor not only the deceased but also the family which has borne the brunt of the late nights, missed holidays and worry over the course of their loved one's career. Are these things elaborate? Yes. Do they cost money? Yes. Do we as a community owe it to our law enforcement, fire, and EMS personnel? Absolutely. Our military buries its dead with ceremonies which have evolved over centuries, so they obviously believe in these funeral services as well.

Public safety is a second family for your local emergency services personnel. When "just one fireman" or policeman, or deputy, or EMT, passes from this world to the next, I hope that Bulloch County always feels the need to mourn them as my father was mourned. Regardless of my personal feelings, I believe that there is no higher "use of resources" than honoring those who have served our community faithfully as was done last Thursday.

Jared Akins


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