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Lower your flags today as a sign of respect

If you look at public spaces in Troy and Brundidge today, you’ll notice that the flags are half-staff.

That’s because mayors in both communities decided to lower the flags as a sign of respect for the residents of Charleston, South Carolina, in the wake of a shooting that left nine people dead at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church earlier this month.

As Troy Mayor Jason Reeves said in making the announcement earlier this week, “we share in their grief.”

“We have been deeply touched by the strong spirit of Charleston,” he said. “The fact that this terrible act of violence occurred in a church is a shocking blow to every community and our nation.”

And he’s right.

Participants at the annual African Methodist Episcopal Church conference held this week at Troy University shared that same connection and sense of loss.

Elijah Shafah, pastor at St. Paul AME Church, summed it up well: “The theory of the A.M.E. church is that this is connectional. You can be in Charleston, you can be in Troy, you can be in New York, but once you walk into an A.M.E. church, you know it’s an A.M.E. church and you’re connected … This affected all of us.”

While we can do little to change the events that took place in Charleston, we can each do something to show respect. We can lower our flags – at our businesses and at our homes – as a sign of respect for the victims of the shooting and the community left to cope in its wake. And, come Sunday morning, we can turn our hearts to prayer, in churches or in our homes.

Respect. Prayer. Understanding. Together, these can help us fight against the violence of hatred and bigotry while reminding us that we are all connected.