Letting the calendar be our teacher

We must not let the anniversaries of major events merely slip by, unnoticed, unrecognized, and worst of all, unused

Anniversaries of major events are interesting things. There are dates like July 4 and December 25 — days on which we collectively celebrate victory and embrace life.

Then there are dates like September 11, where we reflect and mourn en masse.

There are also dates which slip beneath most people’s radar, but have a tremendous impact on a select few.

From WTC to Waco
Yesterday — February 26 — saw another significant date. It was 20 years to the day that a rented Ryder van full of explosives detonated in the parking lot beneath the World Trade Center, killing six and injuring more than 1,000 people.

Being a native New Yorker — working as a low-level analyst for the Federal government — my entire world revolved around that attack for weeks.

I was so focused on lower Manhattan that I didn’t even know that two days later, on February 28, dozens of ATF agents had attempted to raid a place called Mt. Carmel, a “religious compound” outside of Waco, Texas.

It was probably mid-March before I even heard the name David Koresh mentioned in the office. But I’d bet that plenty of you quickly knew about the Branch Davidians, the ill-fated raid, and have ever since held February 28 in certain solemnity.

Of course, April 19 became another important date in the Waco story... and it became “that day” in Oklahoma City, too.

This week, we featured the first in a four-part series by my friend and colleague Dan Marcou that chronicles the raid, the siege, the inferno, and the lessons learned.

Key words: lessons learned.

Building, Learning, and Growing
Anniversaries of major events are interesting things. They’re emotional things. But hopefully they’re also building, learning, and growing things.

There are literally countless dates in our individual lives which are shared by few — if any — other people.

You probably have several of these personal, private, anniversaries of major events in your life.

Maybe the date you survived your critical incident — your Alive Day, as the Wounded Warrior Project calls it.

Maybe the date a best friend was taken from you.

Maybe it’s something outside of the job altogether.

The key is to not let those dates merely slip by, unnoticed, unrecognized, and worst of all, unused.

The key is that the thing which happened ‘back then’ can help us to prepare for what happens ‘when/then’ now and forevermore.

The key is to let the calendar be our teacher.

About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor in Chief of PoliceOne, responsible for setting the editorial direction of the website and managing the planned editorial features by our roster of expert writers. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 900 feature articles and tactical tips on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA). Doug is active in his support for the law enforcement community, contributing his time and talents toward police-related charitable events as well as participating in force-on-force training, search-and-rescue training, and other scenario-based training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.

Read more articles by PoliceOne Editor in Chief Doug Wyllie by clicking here.

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