Last week was one of mixed emotions as the community mourned the loss of one of its public servants.
As our office heard the wreck dispatched over the 911 scanner Monday evening, we knew the call was a rough one, but it wasn’t until early Tuesday morning that we learned the magnitude of what had happened.
Our hearts broke — for the family and friends of Trooper Samuel Bullard who died in the accident on I-77, for the emergency personnel left to deal with the situation, for the community touched by what had happened.
As sad and heartbroken as the community was, the outpouring of support and strength from members of the community and far beyond its borders was uplifting and powerful.
Boonville Flower Shop owners said they had more than 75 calls from all around offering to pay for flowers for Trooper Bullard’s funeral, which was held Friday.
Thousands of people lined the highway and roadways between Wilkesboro’s Walker Center where the funeral service was held and Ronda’s Macedonia Baptist Church where the gravesite service took place.
Red, white and blue was worn by many, and others wore just blue as a sign of support for law enforcement. Signs expressing gratitude for Bullard’s sacrifice while in the line of duty were held by some.
American flags were hung on mail trucks, from power truck booms, from tow trucks, from fire trucks, held by citizens along the route as the funeral procession went by.
Those watching the 40-minute-long procession of mostly law enforcement vehicles from towns and counties in our area and far beyond, as well as states as far away as California, were in awe and humbled by the strength of numbers and support by Bullard’s brothers and sisters in law enforcement.
Sen. Shirley Randleman of Wilkes County, in a release Friday afternoon, announced that the Senate on Thursday approved a statement honoring the highway patrol and Bullard.
“It is important to honor the memory of the members of the State Highway Patrol who have lost their lives in the line of duty and to acknowledge those who have served the State Highway Patrol for their dedication and commitment in making North Carolina’s highways safe,” she said in the release.
Elkin Fire Department joined many others from the surrounding area in lifting a flag above the procession as it traveled its route Friday. Elkin’s firefighters set up their ladder truck at East Wilkes High School, Bullard’s alma mater, and stood with hands over hearts as the procession passed.
Chief Matthew Crawford, who just joined the Elkin department a month ago, said, “Elkin Fire Department is proud to raise the American flag in honor and in humble remembrance of Trooper Samuel Bullard and in support for his family, friends and the NCSHP.”
The staff of The Tribune and The Yadkin Ripple also honor the service, sacrifice and memory of Trooper Samuel Bullard. After a week of struggling to keep our emotions in check as we covered the tragic loss, tears have been shed, prayers have been said, thoughts have remained with the family and friends, and we will not forget the life of Bullard and his dedication to our community.