While Wayne Taylor Racing celebrates another victory in the Rolex 24, and as the fans dry out from a soggy weekend at Daytona, the mood in Sebring is somber.
A dreary Sunday on which churches seem fuller and the half-staff flags mean so much more locally, cars slow down on U.S. 27 as they pass the SunTrust bank branch with the flowers laid near the entrance and the law enforcement vehicles standing watch in the parking lot.
All of us at Sebring International Raceway appreciate all the notes, the emails, phone calls from all over the country, all over the globe, that have come to the track this week in the wake of yet another devastating mass shooting, this time impacting family and friends of five women slaughtered in a bank on Highway 27 just a few miles from the track.
Sebring is a small, close-knit community, and for those who do not know a victim or victims, they know people who know the victims. Some of our employees and their families know the victims well.
The outreach from around the country and the world lets us all know that we mean so much to each other. Race fans always have been a kindred bunch. And Sebring fans seem to me to be even more so.
Like many of you who have reached out to us, we ask what we can do for those so greatly impacted by another young man’s senseless act that no logical person can comprehend.
No amount of money, nor flowers, nor decals on cars, nor billboards can erase the pain that the husbands, co-workers, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, boyfriends, aunts, uncles, cousins, classmates, teammates, church families, colleagues and friends must endure these days, weeks, months and years to come.
With each mass shooting the phrase “thoughts and prayers” seems to be just a little more trivial, and yet, these families and friends need our prayers and support. Not just now, but for years to come.
And the law enforcement personnel and other first responders need our prayers and support, too. And not just those on the scene Wednesday.
Just a few months ago, a Highlands County Deputy was shot and killed in the line of duty, a first in the history of the department.
Saturday, just days after the bank shooting, a deputy took his own life.
Amidst these tragedies, people’s lives move on. The scars remain, but people move on. But they should not forget to support those most closely impacted by these tragedies.
The SuperSebring weekend features the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and the 1000 Miles of Sebring, the next two events on the IMSA WeatherTech and WEC calendars.
All of us in Sebring – employees and volunteers alike – will be working hard these next few weeks to make this historic weekend everything you want it to be, and more.
It is what we do. We mourn. We move on. And if we are truly sincere about our thoughts for the victims, as we move on, we continue to support their families and friends.
When you come to Sebring, if you want to honor the memories of the victims of the Sebring tragedies, here are some suggestions:
Respect the law enforcement officials. They risk their lives to keep all of us safe, and they are here to keep order and ensure your security.
Be kind to one another and respect everyone you meet. If all human beings would live by the Golden Rule, just imagine how much better this world would be.
Offer a kind word to a deputy, police officer, medic, ambulance driver, or firefighter. They choose to put themselves in areas where the bullets still may fly to tend to those who have fallen.
And if you are a praying person, pray for the families and friends, and pray for them for a long time to come.
And remember to love one another, including those who may not vote the same way you do. Or look like you do. Or worship the same way. Or come from a different culture.
The pain in Las Vegas, Tallahassee, Fort Lauderdale, Columbine, Blacksburg, Jacksonville, Charleston, Orlando, Parkland, Baltimore, and regrettably so many more communities … the pain for the families and friends lingers for years.
Please do not forget the myriad victims of these tragedies… not just the dead, but those who must live long after the media coverage ends.