To commemorate National Police Week, May 15-21, we offer honor, support and remembrance while law enforcement, survivors and citizens pay homage to those who gave their lives in the line of duty. In Cherokee County, honor and remembrance goes beyond police week and has a special meaning for county resident Steve Marcinko.
In early 2021, Marcinko set out to make a difference in the lives of those who serve through law enforcement. “While hosting a fundraiser at Rustix Manor, the Woodstock venue I own and operate, I needed security,” Marcinko said. “I hired officer Preston Peavy of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department. As I was making my rounds during the event, he and I struck up a conversation about the ongoing war on our police forces, and we came up with an idea for our community to show support for our cops.”
Acting on the idea, Marcinko founded the nonprofit, Back our Blue and America Too (BOBAAT), and started planning an event to honor our police officers. When he learned about the tragic death of Holly Springs police officer Joe Burson, who was killed during a traffic stop June 17, 2021, Marcinko postponed the BOBAAT event out of respect to the family. When the new date arrived — Oct. 30, 2021 — it became a celebration of Officer Joe Burson Day, a day that was proclaimed by the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners.
The fundraiser was a success, with community support of donations that included enough food to serve 1,500 meals. Approximately 500 members of law enforcement and their families, along with county officials and residents attended, including Sheriff Frank Reynolds and Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, former Woodstock Chief of Police Calvin Moss and Holly Springs Police Deputy Chief Greg Clyburn. Commission Chairman Harry Johnston read the proclamation and presented it to Burson’s widow, Marykate.
“Law enforcement agencies in Cherokee County are blessed to have so much support from our community. We recognize many agencies in other areas do not receive the same love and support,” said Baker, director of communications and community relations for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department.
“Going forward, I am sure that BOBAAT will again do events to show this community’s continuing support, appreciation and gratitude to our police forces,” Marcinko said. “And even though the event, and all that went with it, was such a marvelous success, it still seemed insufficient considering what our cops do, particularly considering the loss Marykate is enduring.”
For more information, or to get involved in the next event, visit backourblueandamericatoo.com.
– Susan Schulz is a Bible teacher and mentor who lives and plays on the Etowah River in Canton. Connect with her on social media or at susanbrowningschulz.com.