Don't tell my editor, but I get cranky when I have to work weekends.
And this past Saturday was no exception. I had to set my alarm for 7 a.m. a particular time I haven't seen in quite a while and drive to Riverdale for a park renaming ceremony. I grumbled about that all the way there.
But, by the end of the day, I was humbled to receive this assignment and a similar one that soon followed.
The park was renamed for Travon Wilson, a 4-year-old killed in the crossfire of a gang shoot-out last June. When I arrived at the ball park that chilly morning, I was hoping to grab a few quotes and split because I had to write another story about a man arrested in connection with an unrelated shooting of a 2-year-old boy.
Of course, the ceremony got off to a slow start. It was scheduled to begin at 8:30 with a small parade, followed by several speakers and the unveiling of the park's new name. Nearly an hour later, the event kicked off. I spent that time watching the growing crowd. There were people who knew Travon and his family and those who only used the park. There were city and county officials and members of local organizations.
As I observed and talked with these people, I noticed something unexpected about the atmosphere there. I wasn't exactly waiting for tears and mourning, but I certainly didn't expect what I got. There was happiness and determination in the air, and it was thick.
Sure, people were heartbroken and saddened by the incident that brought them there. But they weren't broken. They seemed stronger. They were determined to stand together and to show others that they're community would not be divided by bullets and violence. Senseless death would not break their spirit.
By renaming the park, this community refused to let Travon's death be in vain. They could have cried over their loss, and the boy could have become only a memory. Instead, they immortalized him so all could remember the boy who lost his life in that park.
Now as people pass the new sign, they'll not only know a child died there, but that the community loves its children and will fight for them.
It was inspiring to see these people, even for a man who doesn't like working weekends. They restored my diminishing faith in the human race. They showed me there's still people out there who care about others.
Out of every bad comes good, one woman told me.
And it does. It truly does.
Shannon Jenkins is the education reporter for The Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or firstname.lastname@example.org .