Guest Commentary: America, as it should be

NEIGHBORS HELPING NEIGHBORS — Danny Miranda, left, and Wes Byron, in full turkey get-up, sort through boxes of turkeys in the back of a refrigerated box truck to be given away at a drive-thru turkey giveaway event sponsored by DaVita Labs in DeLand.

BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

An open letter to DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar:

I have just returned from DeLand, Florida.

This is really a love letter to all the people I met, the shops I wandered into, the places where I ate.

I came to DeLand because my brother died Oct. 20 of a relatively sudden illness. 

My first encounter with DeLand was with the doctor in the emergency room of AdventHealth DeLand.

On the phone from Florida to Georgia, the caring and competence of Dr. Martin and his ER staff were readily apparent, and very comforting. 

When my brother’s close friend and I arrived in DeLand, we were able to have a face-to-face with Dr. Martin. Thus set the tone of our stay in DeLand.

The hospital, the rehab center, the property manager at the apartment complex … then on to the hotel, the servers in the restaurants, the shopkeepers, the chance encounters with people on the street, the quaint historic Downtown with the incredible murals and wonderful storefronts and shops.

Whether people knew the reason for our visit, or just talked to us as if we were on a “road trip,” the friendliness and welcome were warm and incredible.

I felt like I had been transported to a little slice of America as America should be.

It was a sad trip with hard decisions to be made, but we balanced that by exploring DeLand. I was warmed and inspired. 

I hope that I treat everyone in my hometown as I was treated by all I met in DeLand.

I don’t know if there is a way you can share this letter with the citizens you serve, but if there is, please do so.

I’m signing off with much appreciation for DeLand.

Diana Dokken

Gainesville, Georgia