On the night of Dec. 2, Carthage Town Hall unveiled a local resident’s touching holiday tribute to her public servant spouse and his coworkers, as well as a line drawn in one of the most topical American political subjects of the year. A Christmas tree for the times — blue stripe descending from tip to trunk, decked with Thin Blue Line flags and Punisher skulls — stood among a few huddled community stakeholders.
“So, I was looking for tree ideas online, but I didn’t like any of them,” said Tina McKenzie, wife of Captain Heath McKenzie. “Then I came up with this idea on my own, and I said to myself — now, that’s a tree you won’t find on Pinterest. But with the year these folks have had, I just felt like I had to do something.”
Over the course of several months, she collaborated with Victory Community Baptist Church and several local businesses, including Cooper Ford, Fry & Prickett Funeral Home, Stubb’s BBQ, Action Bail Bonds, and National Agricultural Consultants to sponsor her project. With all but three members in attendance — one officer having been called away for his duties as a National Guardsman— the Carthage Police Department stood in a grim line around the tree as Tina McKenzie stepped forward to say a few words.
“You guys don’t deserve the national discrimination because, as we all know, you are great, great servants to our community. In my heart, I felt like I had to do something to let you know that you are appreciated. I wanted to do this tree, but then I thought that maybe I was thinking too small. I went from business to business, door to door — just asking for whatever they felt comfortable giving.
“The businesses of Carthage were more than happy to help me raise the money to gift each officer $300, in addition to the tree. Some wished they could be more generous, but they’ve had a tough year, but they gave what they could. In the end, everyone we approached had only the nicest things to say about the Carthage Police Department. And it’s well-deserved. Without hesitation, they put their lives on the line for this community. I want them to know that they are very, very loved and appreciated.”
Feature photo: Tina McKenzie (left) and members of Carthage Police Department.
Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Shelby Herbert.