QUINCY -- Walter Thompson struggled to hold back tears as he composed himself to speak into the microphone at the Cathedral of Worship on Sunday.
"Law enforcement has taken a lot of grief about a lot of things the past few years. But what people don't understand is that when individuals like myself are in their way and pose a threat to their lives, they just want to go home to their wife and kids," said Thompson, who had been incarcerated in the past.
"I want to apologize to you for putting you in that position, for threatening your lives. A lot of these officers really do care. Some of these men and women went to bat for me and allowed me to come home. They are not an enemy."
The packed audience cheered. Thompson was one of several people to speak about how God has worked in their lives and to pay tribute to first responders.
The church's 10th annual Blue and White Day recognized local firefighters, police officers, sheriff's deputies, those involved in prison ministry and a range of local and state officials for what often are thankless jobs.
"We wanted to break down the tension between law enforcement and citizens and create a mutual sense of respect," the Rev. E.L. Warren said of the original impetus for the event.
Although Warren acknowledged the relationship between people and law enforcement could be better, he and many in the crowd echoed the same sentiment: It's better than what it was before.
"Blue and White Day celebrates the partnership between the community and all those involved in public safety," Quincy Police Chief Robert Copley said. "In today's troubled times, this partnership has become even more necessary and welcomed."
Another guest speaker at the event was Vivian Wires, who thanked the Quincy Police Department and Adams County State's Attorney Gary Farha for recently arresting suspect Steven E. Gavin in the shooting death of her husband in November 2015.
"There is not doubt that the spirit of the Lord is within here," Farha added.
"The spirit of the Lord needs to be within our court rooms, squad rooms and all around the community. We should all be thankful to the men and women of law enforcement who demonstrate that. A few years ago, we wondered what was going on in our community, but the power of prayer by congregations like this has set things straight."
Following the celebration of thanking service members, a lunch was served for them at the Quincy Country Club.
Also at the same time as Blue and White Day was the second annual Operation Thank You ceremony at Assembly of God Church in Hannibal. The event honored the five branches of the military, law enforcement, firefighters and EMT personnel.