Last weekend my family and several friends camped on a strip of sandbar outside Ensenada, Mexico.
My little niece was with us, representing the third generation that has camped there in the last 50 years. Ken, our close friend, neighbor and patriarch of the sandbar, introduced us to the spot.
As we gathered around the campfire the first night. Ken shared that the folks at the neighboring camp mentioned to him, “We call you the Kennedy compound because you always have so many people. You just have so many friends.”
We laughed and as we squeezed in more chairs around the fire and held dinner on paper plates on our laps, we gave thanks for our friends.
I thought of this at the swearing in of our new police chief, Tom E. Gazsi. Officials said great things about him. He was given praise for his character and career. And then when it was his turn to share some remarks, he spent the whole time speaking about his friends. Colleagues had come from around the county. Childhood friends came from all over the state and his family lined the front row.
He didn’t just talk about cop friends or his career associates. He spoke about school friends and guys he did paper routes with. As he pointed out each one and thanked them for their role in his life, it seemed we were getting a glimpse into who this man is.
From the glimpse I got, I saw a man with a grateful heart. One who so genuinely honors his friends on the day he is being highlighted is a humble leader, one sure of where he has come from and where he stands now. As he honored significant people in his life, I found myself thinking about the people who show up for me, the friends who have had my back for a long time, and the ones who have shared important events and experiences in life with me.
Listening to Chief Gazsi, my heart became more grateful. My thoughts honored my friends. I was compelled by his example of honoring others above himself.
There is much talk about honor and duty when it comes to civil servants. We esteem the office, and we want people of honor to hold the positions. Webster’s dictionary says that honor is “a showing of usually merited respect” and “public esteem.”
Perhaps a good measure for whether a person is a person of honor is how well they publicly respect and esteem others. If that is a measuring stick, then I am excited for where the Costa Mesa Police Department is headed.
As City Chief Executive Tom Hatch said, “It feels good to celebrate.”
CRISSY BROOKS is co-founder and executive director of Mika Community Development Corp., a faith-based nonprofit in Costa Mesa, where she lives.