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Promoting Community Unity in Macomb

Rich Egger
Ron Pettigrew addressed the socially distanced audience at the beginning of the event. "I believe we're stronger together," he said.

Around 75 people from Macomb and surrounding communities gathered at Veterans Park on a sunny, breezy, and mild November morning. They sang and read from scriptures to promote unity through diversity.

Click on the audio link to listen to an audio postcard from the event.

Ron Pettigrew, who serves on the committee that organized the event, said he has become tired of seeing people polarized with one side against another.

“When we make a choice to come together as a community, even if other people think differently, we can build on those strengths to make things better for people,” said Pettigrew, who is a veteran, a chaplain, and the director of Veterans Resources at Western Illinois University.

“Part of what we’re trying to do today is show all the people who care about each other in spite of differences.”

Pettigrew said he was inspired this summer when people from all parts of the community came together to honor the late civil rights leader C.T. Vivian, who grew up in Macomb.

“That was something that I said, ‘We need to fan that flame. We need to continue to build in that area,’” Pettigrew told the crowd.

Churches, ministries, and civic groups that participated in the event included Mt. Calvary Church of God in Christ, the Noon Rotary Club, Shepherd's Gate Foursquare Church, Colchester United Methodist Church, The Crossing, Wesley United Methodist Church, St. Paul Catholic Church, and Christian Faith Campus Ministries. The audience also heard from vocalists from Western Illinois University.

Organizers hope to hold another gathering this Saturday, November 14, though the weather forecast will determine whether it takes place. The plan is to honor first responders, military veterans, and others engaged in community service.


The gathering planned for November 14 has been postponed until sometime next year. In an email to TSPR, Pettigrew said, “We are now planning for a Saturday in May or June so we can ensure the next gathering is done with appropriate weather conditions and the level of professionalism, safety, and precision we believe our first responders, military veterans, or those who have served with excellence in community service, health, education, environmental, or poverty issues deserve.”

This story was produced by Tri States Public Radio.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.