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First responders garner support during 'Back the Badge Rally' at Freedom Park
Back the Badge
Effingham County citizens and first resonders gather in front of an array of emergency vehicles during Sunday evening’s “Back the Badge Rally” at Freedom Park. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

RINCON — Flashing red and blue lights at Freedom Park on Sunday illuminated the appreciation that a group of citizens has for first responders in Effingham County.

About 100 people attended the “Back the Badge Rally” sponsored by Effingham Heroes, a soon-to-be 501(c)(3) organization committed to supporting first responders through fund-raising efforts to help pay for training, equipment and resources so as to maintain the highest standard of excellence in service and protection.

After thanking Effingham Heroes for hosting the rally and welcoming the crowd that gathered in front of about 20 emergency vehicles, Rincon Mayor Ken Lee said, “I can’t help but think — as we look at what is going on in our country and so many people are talking about defunding the police — I would hope that we are here tonight for one purpose, and that is to defend the police and to support them in everything that they are doing,” Lee said.

The mayor’s drew applause and a few shouts of approval.

“I think we need to take every opportunity we can to thank these men and woman for all that they are doing,” Lee continued. “Believe me. There is no way that we could do it enough.”

After an invocation by Don Davis and the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Carlett Fulcher, Steve Yekell explained the mission of Effingham Heroes. He is a member of its board of directors. He said the organization was created for the sole purpose of providing support to the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, Rincon Police Department, Georgia State Patrol Post 42, Guyton Police Department, Springfield Police Department, Effingham County Dispatch, Rincon Fire Department, Effingham County Fire Rescue and the Effingham Emergency Management Agency.

After an introduction of other board members by President Susie Davis, Reps. Jon Burns and Bill Hitchens addressed the crowd. Effingham County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Richard Bush and Rincon Police Chief Jonathan Murrell followed them at the podium.

Bush and Murrell expressed gratitude for the rally. Murrell added that he hoped similar events will be conducted in the future.

Drawings for prizes donated by El Real, 108 Ale House, Quick Rx, Effingham Hospital, Mr. Rooter, Advance Tire and DeWitt Insurance were conducted following the speeches. Clint Hodges, chief of Effingham County Fire & Rescue, won one of them.

“We are appreciative of any type of support,” he said. “Sometimes people think it’s just a small thing but it goes a long way and means a lot to everybody on the line.”

The rally closed with special prayers for dispatchers, EMT personnel, firefighters and law enforcement officers. 

Blue bulbs were sold at the rally. Blue lights are a way to show solidarity with law enforcement officers.