Our Voice: We're grateful for those who make life better for others

July 16, 2014 Updated 16 hours ago

Shootings

The Mid-Columbia had three shootings in one week.

It has put the people who are called to protect and serve on the top of our minds.

When your interaction with a cop amounts mostly to receiving traffic tickets, "thanks" is probably not the first word you think of when you see an officer.

But when an armed man is threatening your neighborhood and someone is willing to put himself or herself between you and that gunman, "thanks" is really not enough.

Off-duty Benton County Deputy Jason Erickson was outside his own home playing with his kids when duty called again.

You've read the stories. You know that a several-hour standoff with police left Erickson's neighbor dead.

It's a horrible situation for all involved.

But it does make us think a little more about what the job of a cop entails.

Most of us don't wear a bulletproof vest every time we go to work. Or, in Erickson's case, have to put that vest on again after we get home at night.

To all the officers involved in this week's shootings and to those who could be pulled into a gun battle at any moment, it's not much but thank you. Thank you very much.

42 years later ...

Jim Gaylord was fired as a Tacoma school teacher 42 years ago for being gay. This week, he received an apology from the Tacoma School District.

It's been a long time coming.

Although he wasn't seeking an apology, he is willing to accept it.

That says a lot for both parties.

At the time of his dismissal, he was not openly gay. His private life was just that -- private.

Gaylord's dismissal prompted a lawsuit that was appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

His private life became quite public -- something most of us wouldn't want to go through.

Things have changed a lot for gays in Washington and the rest of the country since then.

The law protects them from discrimination in the workplace in almost all states. In 1972, no states had such a law, although two cities did.

In 1973, the District of Columbia passed the first law prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination. The first state to pass a similar law was Pennsylvania in 1975.

"It helps put a relatively pleasant end on an unpleasant situation," Gaylord said.

We recognize that people have always mistreated each other -- sometimes intentionally, sometimes through ignorance.

And we realize it still happens.

Many apologies are left unspoken or unaccepted.

We're grateful for people who try to make things right, even when it's a long time in coming. And we're grateful for people who pave the way, especially when that comes at great personal cost.

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