05/16/2008

Richard FairburnLaw Enforcement Firearms
with Richard Fairburn

The thin blue line

They call it the thin blue line, the line between order and chaos. As we observe National Police Week, it is proper to reflect on those who no longer stand among us on the thin blue line. I’m sure every one of us knows at least one of the names carved on those honored stones that edge the walkway “amongst the lions” at the National Police Memorial in D.C. More importantly, we knew the proud officers who bore those names and paid the ultimate price while carrying out their oath to protect and serve.

While we hold those heroes up to God, we must also remember the families and friends they left behind. It is our obligation to help care for and protect the families who gave up their personal hero for the greater good of guarding the line.

I also submit to God’s care those who still walk among us, but carry the scars they received in the battle between good and evil. Some of the scars are physical, from wounds and injuries suffered in the line of duty. Many of the scars, however, cannot be seen. How many more of us will go to God carrying the mental scars of a career spent seeing and doing those things ordinary citizens cannot bear to see? Police officers see society at it’s very worst and, in those rare moments we will always cherish, occasionally get to see it at it’s best.

Still, we fight a battle worth fighting. No matter how high the price, police officers will always step up to the line, ready to pay it. They will face evil knowing that someone must stand the line — “here I am, send me.”

The fictional Don Quixote, told of his own mission to “fight the unbeatable foe.” His words from the song Impossible Dream always struck me as an apt description of a police officer:

To dream the impossible dream, To fight the unbeatable foe, To bear with unbearable sorrow, To run where the brave dare not go, To right the unrightable wrong, To love pure and chaste from afar, To try when your arms are too weary, To reach the unreachable star,

This is my quest, To follow that star,
No matter how hopeless, No matter how far,

To fight for the right, Without question or pause, To be willing to march into Hell, For a heavenly cause,

And I know if I'll only be true to this glorious quest, That my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I'm laid to my rest,

And the world will be better for this, That one man, scorned and covered with scars still strove with his last ounce of courage, To reach the unreachable star.

About the author

Dick Fairburn has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience in both Illinois and Wyoming, working patrol, investigations and administrative assignments. Dick has also served as a Criminal Intelligence Analyst and as the Section Chief of a major academy's Firearms Training Unit and Critical Incident training program. He has a B.S. in Law Enforcement Administration from Western Illinois University and was the Valedictorian of his recruit class at the Illinois State Police Academy. He has published more than 100 feature articles and two books: Police Rifles and Building a Better Gunfighter.

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