Previously in this column, and more than once, I have talked about how Williston has grown and changed but how the heart of our community remains the same; this is a community that cares about one another. Through faith and goodwill, and that voice in each and every person that forces us to act, to help, to step up and work the way we do — Williston today may look a lot different from the way Williston looked in years past, but we are still Williston.
During Tuesday night’s City Commission meeting, the City of Williston, myself, and the other commissioners recognized Jeremy Dawson for the previous week’s heroic acts and coming to the rescue when an infant, toddler, and their nanny were attacked by multiple dogs in the park near his home. While I know I talked about it a little last week, what Jeremy said at the commission meeting has been on my mind quite a bit ever since.
When we asked Jeremy to share with us what happened that day, he didn’t talk about how he’s a hero, or how brave or tough he is, he said he was just doing what anyone would do.
He talked about being a father. He talked about how he wasn’t the only one who came to help and how it could have been so much worse if other people hadn’t also tried to stop the attack. He was humble. He recognized others. He didn’t speak to us as the, “man of the moment,” he spoke to us as a man who did, in his own words, “what anyone would do.”
While I don’t think anyone would argue that what Jeremy did for those children and that woman wasn’t brave, kind, heroic, or special, Jeremy didn’t seem to feel that way. He seemed to feel like that’s just how people are — not how they should be — but how people in Williston are.
Although I feel like Jeremy is an extraordinary example, a lot of what he said really helped draw the picture for what I have tried to in past columns. Yes, Williston has changed and our population continues to grow. In fact, Williston is now home to people from all over — in and outside of the United States. That said, at the end of the day, we are still the people and the community of Williston and no matter where someone is from — whether a lifelong resident here, elsewhere in North Dakota, someone who moved here during the increase in oil activity, or Agnes, the woman from Ghana I wrote about last October who had just arrived in Williston and still loaned me, a perfect stranger, a dollar when I forgot my wallet — the people here, through their kindness and willingness to help others, have made sure that the Williston we know today is still the community we have always known. Williston has been called the “City of Opportunity” — a description that definitely holds true. Williston is also the city where people and service to the community come first.
On a final note, I would like to thank the unnamed individuals who came together to help Jeremy, those children, and that woman in the park last week. While I don’t know your names, all of Williston knows your good deeds.