This article is like an episode of Seinfeld: about nothing in particular.
It’s Saturday morning. I’m a few hours past the deadline for this article. I hate being late. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks as I’ve been away from home and procrastination has gotten the better of me.
I expect this article will be short and maybe a little bit sweet. It will be the last one before my annual pilgrimage to Washington D.C. for Police Week.
This article is about me. More importantly, it is about you, too. It is another attempt to raise our awareness of our brothers that are all around us. It’s another reminder that we must take care of one another, because no one else will.
I’ve been in Michigan for the last couple of weeks. My wife and I returned here from our new home in Florida. There was some business to handle. Most important, our kids, grandkids, friends, and my brothers are here. We needed to spend time with them.
I want to tell you about some of the small events that come and go each day that are opportunities to reach out and help a brother cop. Some of these things were done to my benefit, others were done for me, by others.
That doesn’t matter. What does matter, is that the opportunities were seen and acted upon. I guarantee you that you stumble across the same kind of opportunities every day, no matter where you are.
LAST NIGHT, I attended a fund raiser for Border Patrol Officer Richard Hedglen who works in the Detroit area. At 37, he is enduring his third go around with cancer. It is terminal. He may only live a few more months. He has a wife and two small children. They were all present among the huge gathering of fellow cops.
Midway through the evening, Hedglen spoke to us from the DJ stand. He told us that about a year ago, he and his wife had a chance to move from the southwestern U.S. to Michigan – where their family lives. They decided to make the move and Hedglen said he was comforted knowing that he would be near his blood relatives. He worried though about whether or not the local law enforcement community would receive him as one of their own.
With tears in his eyes, he said that he now knows that his brothers have surrounded him throughout this journey. As a group, we have stood at his side, shared his burden, and made our presence felt in their lives. He thanked us all.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.
Later, I was talking with another attendee who said that he had never actually attended a fund raiser like this before. He had always sent a donation, but not gone in person. He resolved right then to show up, in person, whenever possible from then on.
It meant a lot to a dying officer. It meant a lot to everyone.
It’s the small stuff.
ON THURSDAY, I found that there was a couple of hours open in an otherwise busy schedule. I could have gone to the bar with a pal and had a beer or two. Why not? I’d been really busy and deserved a break.
Instead, I called the guy who runs a local police academy and offered that time to him. I could take an hour or so and instruct the recruit class of 30. The topic: What are your responsibilities as new members of the Brotherhood?
I told them about the small and the big stuff. I played a video about the Memorial in D.C. I told them of their obligation to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice: NEVER FORGET.
I told them about what it’s like to go to the funeral of a fallen officer – even when you don’t know the cop, personally. I passed around rubbings of names of cops I knew from The Wall and closed with a letter I’d found there one year written by the 13 year old daughter of a fallen officer to her Dad in heaven.
I was done. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. I knew that I had planted a seed and could only hope it would grow.
It’s the small stuff.
PLANNING A TRIP away from home has its challenges. I checked on line to learn that the cost of renting a car for use during our visit would be huge. Worse, at the last minute, the invitation to stay with a family member evaporated.
I wrote an email and sent it to my Michigan brothers asking if anyone could recommend an inexpensive car rental as well as lodging options.
Within a day, I had a response from one buddy who works for Customs (CBP) offering his extra car for free. Another buddy who I’d worked with and known since the beginning of my cop career said that my wife and I would be welcome at his home.
THE LIST of opportunities to reach out is endless. Our FOP Lodge helped a Maryland sheriff’s deputy who had fallen on very bad times. A large group of us helped out 34 cops in Slidell, LA who lost their homes during Katrina.
Stepping up can be as small as slowing down in order to help a fellow officer who is alone on a traffic stop – if needed… it is staying “tuned in” to the guys you work with and when something isn’t right, offering help or maybe, just an ear.
You can do something right now. Today. This minute.
Each of us has an enormous obligation to NEVER FORGET those 20,000+ cops who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We must remember them. We must care for their families. We have an obligation to comfort the brothers who worked at their side.
If you have not given serious consideration to participating in Police Week in D.C., please consider it now.
If you cannot go, find someone who is going and send a memento of remembrance for the Wall.
Ask someone who is attending to bring you a souvenir. It could be a badge, a patch, a challenge coin, it could be the rubbing of the name of an officer on the Wall that you know or worked in your department.
No, I’m not being corny. On the evening of May13th, after dusk, say a prayer of remembrance for the officers whose names who are being added during the Candlelight Vigil as well as the 25,000 cops who will be there to share in the experience.
Even if you can’t be there physically, be there in spirit. Be there in your heart. Never Forget.
It’s the small stuff.
It is up to us to carry the torch. It is our job to teach the young. They will learn far more from our actions than they will from our words. Consider it carefully. You only go through this life once. Do all that you can to be proud and be a credit to The Badge.
I welcome your comments by email: jim@CopBlueBlog.com .
When all is said and done, it comes down to saving just ONE life.
From the CopBlue vault.