Approximately 2,000 people celebrated the country’s birthday Friday with the Bossier Sheriff’s Office’s second annual 4th of July “In God We Trust” rally.
The three-hour event, held from 1-4 p.m. at the Bossier Sheriff’s Office Viking Drive Substation in Bossier City, saw attendees from as far away as Ohio showing up to celebrate Independence Day and support the national motto, “In God We Trust.”
“You’re here today because you’ve said ‘We support you,’” said Sheriff Julian Whittington. “We can’t run from this. It sends a signal that we’re tired of it.”
Emcee Rick Rowe got the standing-room-only crowd inspired by praising the city’s deep faith.
“The reason this country was founded was to worship Jesus Christ. That is the reason our country is the greatest country in the world,” said Rowe, before going further to note, “Bossier is exploding, everyone wants to move here for some reason. And that reason is we are blessed because of that love for Jesus Christ.”
One of the event’s emotional highlights was when U.S. Representative Bill Cassidy recognized Sheriff’s Posse members who served during World War II.
Bill Breeland, Herb Dunlop, Ken Myers, Albert Turner, Ray Urban, and John Williams were all presented with special awards and honored with videos presentations shown throughout the event. Non-posse member Edwin Davis was also presented with an award for his service.
Breeland’s video showcased his service in the Pacific Theater and his view of patriotism — “You honor the flag and the people in service of your country.”
He also offered advice to the younger generation following in his and others’ footsteps.
“Keep (your) head up and follow after (your) elders that are observing the laws, the Constitution.”
The free event also featured children’s activities, hotdogs, music, and video presentations with special guest speakers, including Haughton’s State Representative Henry Burns and Bossier City State Representative Jeff Thompson.
Burns took the crowd back in time to discuss the numerous men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for a country founded on freedom and faith.
“Our country has been through many wars and the life we have today is because of those sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and the freedom we have is because of them,” said Burns.
Thompson said it is time for a renaissance of public expression of faith.
“This nation was founded on moral principles and a desire to provide freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Sadly the lesson we are teaching the next generation of Americans is to fear their government,” said Thompson. “We are called upon, as Americans, to proudly and publicly proclaim and affirm our religious beliefs which have been so publicly and continually proclaimed dating back to the founding of this nation and the framing of the U.S. Constitution.”
The rally’s roots lie in the federal government’s denial of $30,000 in funding for the Young Marines program because of the program’s mention of God in its pledge and voluntary prayer. Whittington told the Department of Justice that he was not going to remove voluntary prayer and the mention of God from the program in order to receive the grant money.
Following this, public support for the program and Whittington’s stance was overwhelming resulting in many donations and the first rally held last July.
This support was highlighted by Sue Estess, wife of a BSO deputy, who presented Whittington with a $30,000 donation made from sales of special t-shirts made over the past year.
Following that donation, Whittington presented a check showing all the donations made in a year’s time to the Young Marines, an amount totaling $137,385.
Despite the support and public outcry against the government’s stance, Whittington noted in his remarks that the situation is still “hanging out there.”
“Nothing has been resolved. We’re still mentioning God and having prayer,” he said defiantly to a round of applause.