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 at Large for PoliceOne, responsible for providing police training content and expert analysis on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. 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. Doug is also responsible for planning and recording the PoliceOne Podcast, Policing Matters, as well as being the on-air host for PoliceOne Video interviews. Doug also works closely with the PoliceOne Academy to develop training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.

Doug regularly represents PoliceOne as a public speaker in a variety of forums and is available for media interviews — he as appeared on numerous local and national radio and television news programs, and has been quoted in a host of print publications. 

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).

Contact Doug Wyllie

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