Call it a symphony to honor first responders. Church bells tolling. People cheering and a percussion section of spoons clanging rhythmically on pots and pans. That is the plan this year for the Chagrin Valley for the annual First Responders Appreciation Day at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
A traditional tribute was not possible this year, and for good reason. With limitations on large crowds and the need for physical distancing, keeping everyone safe is critical during the ongoing battle to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Plans for this year’s tribute were built on an idea from Chagrin Falls resident Jo McGinnis who called Jo and Bob Royer with the suggestion. It did not take long for the South Russell couple to start composing a different type of tribute.
First Responders Appreciation Day is recognized by the state through House Bill 44, approved unanimously in 2018, thanks to the hard work of the Royers who presented the concept to state lawmakers.
The Royers began their mission to get a day set aside for this recognition in 2015, after seeing the work of Savannah Solis on the news. Savannah, now 15, of Tyler, Texas, wrote thank you notes to New York City police officers after two patrolmen were killed in a shooting in 2014 and has continued to challenge others to laud first responders.
First Responders Appreciation Day honors police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians who stand ready around the clock to answer emergency calls from community residents. They are there for us.
But this year, the definition of people who are there for us – the individuals on the frontlines every single day – must be expanded to include nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, grocery workers, delivery people, nursing home caregivers, military personnel, hospital custodians and so many others who have banded together to care for all of us during the COVID-19 health crisis. There are more – people who stitched face masks for healthcare workers, individuals who raised money for personal protective equipment to donate to hospitals, the Army Corp of Engineers who built temporary hospitals, the Ohio Army National Guard who delivered groceries and neighbors who donated meals to those caring for the COVID-19 patients fighting for their lives. The list should include every individual on the planet. Each one of us can show respect and take care of each other by simply wearing a mask and observing social distancing when out in public.
During this crisis, the frontline has moved to our front doors. As Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said, “No other time in our lives will our individual actions play a greater role in saving lives.”
As Ohio slowly opens after nine weeks of shuttered businesses and stay-home mandates, restrictions are changing, allowing for a drive-by parade around Chagrin Falls by the local police and fire departments on Sunday. Residents are encouraged to remain on their porches and wave.
So, on Sunday, regardless of where you live, open your front door, step outside at 2 p.m. and listen for bells. Even if you cannot hear them, bang some pots together, give a cheer and make some noise to honor all of us on the frontlines supporting each other, showing kindness toward each other, giving each other hope and helping each other during these uncertain times.