It’s a four-letter word I utter a lot – Love.

The Love sign in Culpeper isn’t just a tourist attraction – it’s a way of life. Our nation has been rocked by racial unrest following the death of George Floyd in late May. There have been violent protests, unrest and uncertainty.

Thankfully, in Culpeper, love has unified. Yes, we had two protests last week, but both showed residents can be passionate, angry and hungry for change while still being peaceful.

Here we can support our African American brothers and sisters, their businesses, their nonprofits and continue to support our law enforcement. We have seen how our local law enforcement embraced the protests and helped them – through love and understanding.

We, at the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce, believe in love. We believe in helping everyone no matter their race, religion or creed. We believe in inclusivity, diversity and community.

On a personal note, I’ve worked very hard as a father to shield my three little girls from hate and evil. As we came back from a long walk that led us through Yowell Meadow Park the other day, we turned up Sperryville Pike. My oldest, Mady, stopped as she read the chalk scrawled on one of walls that line the busy highway. “Black Lives Matter, justice for George Floyd” and more adorned the concrete.

I could feel the wheels turning in her brain as she looked up at me, tears started to fill her innocent eyes.

The questions streamed like those teardrops forming on her cheeks.

“Who’s George Floyd?”

“Did he die?”

“Why would that officer do that?”

“But Dad,” Mady asked, wiping tears from her face, “you’ve always taught us to go to law enforcement if there’s a problem – they are the helpers. Why didn’t they help him?”

It’s heartbreaking telling a young child that yes, evil and hate exist in this world. However, it was reassuring hearing myself tell her that in Culpeper, we are ruled by love. That we can look at our Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office, at our Culpeper Town Police, at our Virginia State Police stationed here – and know they are true of heart and all of these agencies are here to help.

It’s been heartwarming to see our younger generation be the one enacting change, to see the young organizers of the peaceful march last Saturday stand up and let their voice be heard. It warms my heart to see the photo, taken by Shemika Grigsby, showing our local law enforcement and protesters taking a knee together at the love sign.

Yes, there is evil in this world, but love overcomes it. That is what we need to preach.

As Mady stood there, taking in the sign on 522, she turned, got back on her scooter and said “well, that’s wrong what he did, we’re all special and we’re all loved.”

I couldn’t put it better myself.

The next time there you confront with hate – counter it with a force that is more powerful. Love.

That’s the Culpeper I know, and I love.