By Callie Hietala
The Bassett Cruse-In honored local law enforcement last weekend with the first ever Back the Blue Parade. Slightly more than 60 classic cars convened in the parking lot of Cross Point Church in Ridgeway where drivers heard comments of gratitude and a prayer from Henry County Sherriff Lane Perry before cruising through Martinsville, Collinsville, and into Bassett to join the waiting Cruise-In crowd.
“This is awesome,” Perry said of the parade. “The car show has become a big family. Cars come from everywhere, and here’s a group of people who have decided to take this opportunity to show police officers everywhere how important they are and that there are people standing behind them.”
“We have had a huge outpouring of support from the public over the last year or so,” he said, and added, “but what I want to see is all of our elected leaders step up and say, ‘We need to back our police officers.’”
Tony Wright and Doug Lawrence were among the classic car owners who joined in the parade. Wright said law enforcement backs him up all the time, he wanted to back them up too.
“I run a funeral home, and they provide escorts for us all the time, so this was the very least I could do.”
“It’s crazy times, we’ve got to keep supporting the guys,” said Lawrence.
Alan Alderman, chairman of the Bassett Cruise-In Committee, said that since “police get sort of a raw deal, we thought it would be great to sort of pat them on the back and show them that we care about them.”
He hopes the parade will become an annual event.
“We get $10 a car,” Alderman said. That money will be split between the benevolence funds of Henry County and Martinsville City law enforcement.
Perry said the funds are used to support law enforcement officers.
“If one of our officers is in the hospital, it will send some little gift, like a little basket of some type. If an officer’s immediate family member dies, it’ll send some flowers to the funeral home,” Perry said. The funds are also usually put toward a Christmas dinner for the officers.
As the cars paraded along the route, escorted by law enforcement from both the county and the city, pockets of spectators lined the streets, some waving flags, others with hand-made signs carrying messages of support. Once the parade reached downtown Bassett and joined the other 400+ cars at the Cruise-In, Jim Adams, chairman of the Henry County Board of Supervisors, read a proclamation expressing gratitude for the men and women of local law enforcement.
“We appreciate the extraordinary efforts and sacrifices made by those officers and their family members on a daily basis in order to protect our schools, workplaces, roadways, homes, and visitors,” Adams said as he read the proclamation, in part.
“As a police department, we like working with the community,” Martinsville City Police Officer Coretha Gravely said to the crowd, “and my motto is policing others in the way I want to be policed. Remember that police officers – we’re human too. We’re human too. Our job is to protect and to serve and do the best we can.”