HARRISON – A special ceremony of appreciation was held Tuesday, June 22 in the conference room of the Kevin Sherwood Memorial Dispatch Center. Initially intended to be held outdoors, cold rain took the gathering indoors where the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. The purpose of the ceremony was to honor those who wear the badge and support the badge, including law enforcement officers, corrections officers, and dispatchers.
The event commenced with a welcome and prayer by Chaplain Bill Dyke of the Clare County Sheriff Department. Then attendees were treated to the clear, melodic voice of Jonathan Harper, who accompanied himself on guitar as he sang a medley of patriotic songs: “Proud to Be an American,” “America, America,” “God Bless America,” and “This Land is Your Land.” Many in attendance eagerly raised their voices, harmoniously joining in the joyful melodies.
Next came the unveiling and presentation of a special version of the American Flag to Sheriff John Wilson and Undersheriff Dwayne Miedzianowski. The flag is composed of wood and painted with four white stripes, six red stripes, along with three adjoining stripes: one blue stripe, one gray, one yellow. This wooden Thin Line Flag was created by Cpl. Mike Nokes, and Dyke explained that he, himself, had added the blue cross on the lower right. Dyke added that the cross covers all three of the special lines.
Presented along with the flag was a certificate of appreciation, which read:
“I, Chaplain William Dyke, preset to the men and women of Clare County Sheriff’s Department this U.S. Thin Line Flag.
The Thin Gray Line represents the members of our Corrections Division.
The Thin Blue Line represents the members of our Law Enforcement Division.
The Thin Yellow Line represents the members of our Central Dispatch Division.
The Cross symbolizes that Jesus Christ is Alive, has Risen, and Intercedes for each one of you.
The Clare County Clergy and Forgotten Man Ministries are in support of the work you do in service to protect the community of Clare County. Below, you will see the signatures of the Clare County Clergy that pray for each of you…[14 signatures were affixed].
God Bless Each of you.”
“In outstanding recognition of your department and service to our community, I present you with that,” Dyke said.
The undersheriff spoke next, expressing his gratitude for the Forgotten Man Ministries program which has been operating for several years in the county jail.
“Forgotten Man has been phenomenal for us,” Miedzianowski said. “Not only in the jail, but with staff. A lot of the stuff they deal with – it’s a very difficult profession right now – in all the different divisions. A lot of stress. We’re proud of them and what they do every day for all of us. We’re proud of being partners with Forgotten Man and thank all of you for caring enough to take the time today in supporting us.”
The sheriff then voiced his thanks for the group’s support, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
“This last couple years has been very challenging for all of us here in law enforcement, the jail and dispatch, with COVID,” Wilson said. “We all still had to come to work; we still had to go out there. I’ve had it twice, even after a vaccination; a lot of my people have had it. So, we still come to work and do what we have to do. This means a lot to us – thank you.”
Pastor Jerry Britton spoke next and began by saying that years ago he had been approached by the city’s mayor, who told him one of the community’s issues was that there was no ministry in the county jail.
“So, we started praying, the pastor’s association, etc., and six months later I got a call,” Britton said. “It was Forgotten Man Ministries wondering if we could put together a group, and we did. Eventually, Bill [Dyke] came into the jail, and I have enjoyed working with him very much, and appreciate that connection. Today we are so excited to have him; I’ve worked with people in the jail and I could tell you many stories. It is so good to have someone we pastors can connect with, and to see him then connect with the Sheriff Department. Today, we are celebrating that partnership of praying for those. We want you to know we’re praying for you; we as pastors totally understand what you’ve gone through and those battles. But it’s not just about that – it’s ultimately about the people that we serve. The idea of ministry in the jail is, yes, helping those who serve in blue but, ultimately, it’s trying to help those who need a life change. And the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is shared through Bible Study, Celebrate Recovery and other ministries that happen now because we have a window to get in. We so appreciate Pastor Bill and his connection, and the Sheriff Department working with him. All of us appreciate the people that ultimately are the beneficiaries of this union. Thank you.”
Wilson added more thoughts to Britton’s.
“There’re so many people – and I tend away from calling them inmates,” Wilson said. “They’re human beings, they make mistakes. They come into my jail and, hopefully, we can open their hearts. I know that has worked with many of them that have been here, and I keep in contact through some of the pastors here ... And we just keep our hands out to say, ‘We’re here to help you along the way.’ There’s great success stories.”
The assembled clergy then passed out flat [fridge] magnets bearing the image of the Thin Line Flag for all who serve.
The ceremony was closed out with a prayer offered over a close gathering of all the law enforcement, corrections and dispatch personnel present.