We Will Not Forget
I haven’t written about Ethan in a while, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still think about him every day. My life is forever changed by the events of January 12, 2013 and at the NDSC conference I got to meet families from all over the country who feel the same way.
So many people, men and women, came to our exhibit table, stopped us in the hallways, and attended the showing of the beginning of the documentary film “Justice For Ethan.” A considerable number of them broke down, fought back tears, and were so overcome with emotion that they couldn’t speak.
“Can I hug you?” was a frequent request of Patti.
One story that reminded us of the scope of Ethan’s legacy came from a mom who visited us at the table. She wanted Patti to know that her son, who does not have Down syndrome, was so touched and angered by the story that he used it for the subject of a speech he gave in his communications course. When she left the table, Patti and I wondered about how many more stories like this were out there: total strangers, people of all ages and backgrounds, discussing the issues of inclusion, acceptance, and tolerance in Ethan’s name.
545 days 21 hours and 45 minutes
Patti received a President’s award for her advocacy at the conference. To her, it comes naturally. To the rest of us who watch her with amazement, her efforts are super-human. She’s devoted to making sure nothing like this happens again – to anyone’s child.
Part of her acceptance speech:
In her speech, Patti talked about the work that’s being done. Yesterday, there was news that took us all by surprise:
“Plans are in the works at the U.S. Department of Justice to roll out law enforcement training focused on people with disabilities.”
The Maryland Commission and the progress it is making is wonderful. The Department of Justice also addressing this issue on a federal level is amazing. The announcement created a flurry of activity and emotion among those who follow the story.
The Jenkins Issue…
As excited as I am about the legacy that Patti, her family, and the army of supporters are creating in Ethan’s honor, one thing still sticks in my craw: Sheriff Chuck Jenkins.
He has yet to take any responsibility for the fact that three of his veteran officers KILLED Ethan. Instead, he keeps insisting that they “did nothing wrong.” He goes about his life unaffected. This past week, he even traveled to “inspect” the border situation. Like Frederick County’s biggest problem is in Texas. To make it even worse, his trip is funded by a group that is recognized by The Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.
To top it all off, Jenkins is running for office again. He actually has a great deal of support from the “good ol’ boy” network in Frederick county and the Republican base. He’s already won the primary election… If he wins the general in November Frederick County will be stuck with his hate-filled, prejudicial, self-serving brand of “law enforcement” for four more years. The thought is depressing to say the least.
My 2 Cents
I truly wish that Jenkins, Lt. Scott Jewell, Sgt. Rich Rochford and Deputy First Class James Harris had to walk those hallways at NDSC with Patti and I. I wish they had to watch as frightened parents relived the story in their own minds and saw their own sons and daughters in Ethan’s place. I wish they had to face the questions that we all want answers to:
Why did they HAVE to remove Ethan from the theater?
Why didn’t they listen to his caregiver or at least let her back into the theater to calm him down?
Why didn’t they wait for his mother who was less than 5 minutes away?
Did any of them know Ethan since he was popular at the county headquarters?
HOW DID HIS LARYNX GET CRUSHED??????
I wish they had been made to face the Saylor family and apologize.
Most of all, I truly hope that part of Ethan’s legacy is to remove Chuck Jenkins from office.
I’ll continue to voice my opinion on this issue and pray that Karl Bickel defeats Jenkins in November – for the sake of all of our children.
I’ll continue to build The Road We’ve Shared as a small part of Ethan’s legacy.
We are legion!
We Will Not Forget!
If you’ve been touched by this story, please let us know. Your stories give us strength! Visit Justice For Ethan on Facebook or JusticeForEthan.com to send the Saylor family a message and/or stay updated on the case.