HASN’T ANYONE TOLD YOU ABOUT IT?
There’s a huge, beautiful memorial in Washington D.C. that was built to honor the ultimate sacrifice of over 21,000 law enforcement officers who have died in the defense of the American way of life.
Soon, there will be an equally great museum right next to it. It is scheduled to official open October 13th of this year. That museum will tell the real story of what it’s like to be a cop in America, up through and including right now.
Has anyone told you about the Memorial and Museum? Have you been there? Do you know who they belongs to? The answer: they belong to you and me. Yup. For real. They are ours. Of course we share the ownership with all of our brothers and sisters who wear the badge.
It occurs to me when I talk to other cops about the Memorial and Museum that they think that hallowed ground belongs to an imaginary “them” – to someone else – but not to them, personally.
Maybe they think the Memorial and Museum belong to the government. They don’t.
Maybe some think they belong to some national group like the FOP, or a huge corporation. Wrong again.
Maybe they believe the job of their care and improvement belong to someone else, as well. Nope. The job belongs to each of us individually. One cop at a time owns them. Look in the mirror and you’ll see who has responsibility for ensuring their greatness.
I was in D.C. for Police Week this year. I heard moving speeches from Craig Floyd and others who are part of the staff at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Let me be clear about this: these folks are among the best and brightest. They are dedicated to our well-being and to the memory whom we’ve lost. God bless them. We couldn’t find better folks anywhere.
Standing there at the Candlelight Vigil, it would be easy to think that caring for our Memorial and Museum belongs to them. Think again.
Imagine you owned a vacation home somewhere far away. You might hire someone to cut the grass, take in the mail, and make sure that everything is OK. You might even have that person handle routine jobs like painting, and hiring a handyman for small repairs.
I live in Daytona Beach, Florida and people who do that kind of caretaking work are pretty common here because of all of the snowbirds.
That’s how you should be thinking of the Memorial and soon-to-be Museum.
Caring for them is your responsibility. As a community, we have been fortunate enough to find the very best people on the planet to take care of them in our absence. But, the final responsibility is ours, individually.
I receive emails regularly which provide news about the current events happening at our Memorial & Museum. Often, those messages include a request for me to send a dollar or two to help with expenses. I do my best; I figure it’s my job.
There are about 900,000 cops across our land. If every one of us sent just $1 – yes, One Dollar each month, finances would never be an issue. If we were willing to send the amount that two beers cost instead, our Memorial Fund would be wealthy.
The Memorial and Museum belong to us cops. It is not the responsibility of Motorola, Mag-Lite, Panasonic, Second Chance or any of the big corporations to pay its bills. The job is ours. It’s yours and mine, individually.
While we appreciate the help we’ve gotten from many corporate sponsors, don’t let that confuse you about where the responsibility rests.
We own that Memorial and Museum. You and I own it along with all of our Brothers and Sisters in arms. Just because we aren’t looking at it each day, doesn’t relieve us of caring for it.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
There’s stuff you can do right now. First: write a check. It doesn’t matter if it’s $5, $10, whatever. Chip in your share. You can even donate on line at www.nleomf.org. However you do it, just do it.
Second, you can spread the word about OUR Memorial and Museum to those whom we protect. Tell them we are raising money to build and support these tributes to the fallen. Ask area businesses where you trade if they will help.
Cleaning out the attic? Send mementos that can be displayed in the Museum. Their address is on the website.
Write a letter to the editor in your local newspapers. Talk about it on career day at your kid’s school. See if you can get a public service announcement on a local radio station, TV, or cable.
Our collective mindset needs to change. The Memorial & Museum aren’t the job of someone else. The job belongs to you and to me.
Think of it this way: when you’re out for a few pops with the crew and the bill comes at the end of the night, you divide up the bill and throw in your fair share.
It’s time to do that now. The reason is just a little different – and a whole lot more important.
Remember, at the end of the day, it’s all about saving just ONE life.
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