OUR VIEW: Remember when we could disagree and still be friends?

Published 9:30 am Tuesday, June 28, 2022

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On Wednesday night, the LaGrange community came together to remember three men who were recently lost at a young age.

Rico Dunn, Stephen Bartolotta and Jacob Brown were killed in an accident Saturday on Roanoke Road. All three of them — one in his early 20s, the others about to turn 20 — had plenty of life left to live.

All three had been part of a joyous moment just hours before. Dunn had been celebrating his sister’s birthday. Bartolotta and Brown had been celebrating a conference championship for the LaGrange College baseball team.

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It’s been a tough week for everyone who knew these three young men. For this community, there’s been a lot of sorrow and grief and a lot of questions. Unfortunately, many of those will never be answered. But rather than let tragedy divide us, the community came together on Wednesday night at Lafayette Square — the most recognizable landmark in our city — to pray, cry, remember and lean on each other during this difficult time. While the focus should certainly be on the families who lost a loved one, we don’t think the unity shown should be missed in that moment.

Wednesday night we heard from members of the LaGrange College community, the Dunn family and others. People of many different backgrounds and walks of life came together to sing, support one another and to work through their grief together. A total of 500 balloons were released and candles were lit, with everyone holding them up high in remembrance. It was a touching tribute, the type of thing you honestly don’t see in most communities.

After the ceremony ended, it appeared the LaGrange College baseball team stood up and one-by-one hugged members of the Dunn family. In a moment where there’s nothing you can do, and there are no right answers, a hug — especially between people who had probably never met — signified so much. It showed that they are in this together, brought together by this terrible tragedy.

We know the days ahead won’t be any easier, but our thoughts and prayers are with all three families as they navigate this difficult time. It’s clear by Wednesday night’s ceremony that Brown, Bartolotta and Dunn were all loved by so many people, and their absence in this community will leave a major hole.