Why do we remember?
By Dave Smith
No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation.
Facts to think about:
• "There are 17,917 federal, state and local law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty and whose names are engraved on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial." (In New York, the toll has been 1,115 law enforcement officers.)
• "Deputy Sheriff Isaac Smith of the New York City Sheriff's Office was killed on May 17, 1792, and is the first known officer killed in the line of duty in our nation's history.”
• "Anna Hart, a prison matron with the Hamilton County, Ohio, Sheriff's Office was killed on July 24, 1916 and is the first known female officer to die in the line of duty.”
• "215 female officers names are engraved on the memorial.”
• "Sept. 11, 2001, was the deadliest day in law enforcement history; 72 officers were killed that day."
--From the National Law Enforcement Memorial Web site
Why do we remember?
Show me the manner in which a nation or a community cares for its dead. I will measure exactly the sympathies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land, and their loyalty to high ideals.
--Attributed to William E. Gladstone
On the mountains of memory, by the world's wellsprings,
In all men's eyes,
Where the light of the life of him is on all past things,
Death only dies.
--Algernon C. Swinburne
Death and wounds will be painful to the brave man and against his will, but he will face them because it is noble to do so or because it is base not to do so. And the more he is possessed of virtue in its entirety and the happier he is, the more he will be pained at the thought of death; for life is best worth living for such a man, and he is knowingly losing the greatest goods, and this is painful.
--Aristotle, Ethics, 1117b7
Were a star quenched on high, For ages would its light, Still traveling downward from the sky, Shine on our mortal sight. So when a great man dies, For years beyond our ken, The light he leaves behind him lies Upon the paths of men.
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
What could we say at Calibre Press that hasn’t been said better by others regarding the nature of sacrifice and service? This is a week to reflect on the lives given in the defense of community, in service to others. Later this month, on May 28th, we will remember those who fell in battles and service to our Nation while serving in the Military, this week is the time to reflect and remember those who fell while preserving Freedom by serving as Law Enforcement Officers.
Part of every citizen’s duty is to remember, to understand, that Freedom is born from sacrifice, from blood. Jefferson’s famous quote, “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” is often quoted but rarely exemplified more powerfully than the sensation of standing before the Law Enforcement Memorial Wall. It is a pilgrimage everyone who ever wore the badge and gun should take; a powerful moment that those have already experienced will never forget!
Unfortunately, too many may just go to the Wall and look up the names of their friends or those who fallen from their State or Agency and not take the most important step. To stand in the center of the mall that the Wall surrounds and take in its breadth, its shear numbers and feel the important sense of thanks, of gratitude to those who have given all, to the families that have suffered loss, to the Nation that creates such people. Thanks to our brothers and sisters for their gift to us, their illumination of our path, their pain, suffering and sacrifice…their blood…to refresh our Tree of Liberty!
Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul; and the heart of man knoweth none more fragrant.
Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.
If, in remembering and giving thanks for the sacrifice given by our brothers and sisters, you find your heart aching; if the sounds of the bagpipes brings tears to eyes from the loss you have felt over the years, choose this moment to dedicate yourself to be the best backup, the best partner, the best trainer or best supervisor or best leader you can be! We cannot take risk from our lives, but each of us can choose to harden the target, to avoid the obvious threat, not be de-trained by routine and make sure we help each other stay safer by giving honest advice when we see bad habits or mistakes putting others at risk.
Ultimately we will always have to stop to bury our fallen and doing so we must never forget the nature of honor and sacrifice and find solace in our mission and faith.
Those to whom we say farewell, are welcomed by others.
Do not suppose, my dearest ones, that when I have left you I shall be nowhere and no one. Even when I was with you, you did not see my soul, but knew that it was in this body of mine from what I did. Believe then that it is still the same, even though you see it not.. Wherefore... preserve my memory by the loyalty and piety of your lives.