Saturday, March 28, 2009

Clinging to honor and grasping for faith

It's almost 5am. Today was a long day. Sleep hasn't come easy for me the last two nights. Writing now is more for me than anything else. It's cathartic. It's my drug of choice.

I sit here and wonder how many bar stools were occupied tonight and how many shots of Jack were toasted to the four Oakland officers who were laid to rest today? I wonder how much sleep their friends, family, and collegues have gotten in the last week?

The Memorial was beautiful and heartbreaking. Finding the words to describe the show of support from coast to coast and beyond is not possible and I wasn't even there to witness it in person. My colleagues who were present said the 19,000+ capacity arena was, "a sea of blue under a canopy of stars made by the reflections of the brass and the badges." There were officers from every state and other countries. The motor officers from NYPD said they came because the loss reminded them of 9-11.

I was entranced by all the speakers. I hung on their words as they described the men behind the badges and photos that have been displayed on every local news station for the last week.

I was moved by the words from the captain of all four men.

In his introduction, he simply said "These are my men" and he let out a heavy sigh. "These are my men." I don't know what it is to be a commander of a division of highly-trained officers, but I know what it is like to feel a sense of commitment for those under my watch. When I am on the radio, when it's my ears listening and my fingers doing the typing, and when there is often only one chance to ask for cover, to yell for help, those men and women on the other side of the radio are mine. It's my job to know where they are without hesitation, to send them cover when they're outnumbered, and to make sure they come home safe.

In addressing the 800+ OPD police force and comrades left behind he said "stand straight, keep your heads high, and step confidently ahead...that's what John, Dunnie, Erv, and Dan would want you to do.

I'm in a spot in my career where the daily pressures of dealing with the ugliness of humanity have robbed me of my love for the duty I took an oath to serve. I used to love my job and it used to love me. Feeling like it's an uphill battle, I've lost some faith in my career but I've never lost my grip on the belief that there is honor in this career of public safety. There will always be honor and good where there is evil. It was a common theme from each and every speaker that each man died in the service of the job they loved to do.

I will cling to the hope that my firm grasp on that belief, that honor is always present, will see me through to the end of my career, whenever that might be. Even in death, the lives of these four men will continue to inspire more people than they will ever know.


  1. beautifully written. I don't know how you do your job...

  2. i think maybe we were destined to know each other because of our love for honor. i can't say that i contribute to it as you do, daily, but my grandpa was a ww2 vet and the love of my life. sadly, he passed before i started blogging but... he was an amazing person. a war hero, the first fire chief in our little town, on the city council... the only man i know that loved his wife more than anyone until the very day he died. i have been reading his books and stories and letters. for his funeral, five fire engines led the way to the cemetery, his casket on the first: the very truck he drove from new york to utah for the first fire truck in mapleton. i just think you're an inspiration. that is all.
    p.s. i cry EVERY time i see the flag and the fourth of july, don't get me started.