COMMENTARY: Of life...and death

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot


Greencastle Police Department

The recent deaths of two Hagerstown area teenagers with promising lives ahead of them made me reflect as a parent raising two children. I remember when mine were young how we worried whenever there was an illness of consequence and how we looked forward to the time when they were older and “safe” from any life threatening maladies. Then came the advent of the teens and drivers licenses and all we got were different worries. It's all just a reminder of how fragile life really is.

Our “First Responders” deal with this every day, whether here in Greencastle or Los Angeles, New York or anywhere in between. In 2011 the law enforcement community lost 166 of our brother and sisters. They were shot, stabbed, struck by cars, drowned and beaten to name a disgusting few. They and their families knew every day when they went to work there may not be an end to their shift. They may not return home.

It's easy to look at this and say “It's their job” but people don't generally do a job that may take their life. Just like our Armed Forces, they do this because of their commitment to our communities, to our way of life and to our nation as a whole.

During a recent career day at our local school one of the assigned questions was “Why do you want to be a …?” I prefaced this question with a real assessment of “the job” by stating, “I have been shot at twice, wrestled over a knife, missed more family events than I can recall, been late for dinner so many times that late is the new standard, worked frigid cold nights and sweltering hot days, been ignored by those I work for and cursed by those I was trying to help… So, why do you want to be a Police Officer?” Some of the responses were amazing, others frightening and some showed that our young people do understand. They were promising in their commitment to our community and country.

I can honestly still answer that question by stating that I love what I do. I suspect that the 166 Officers who died in service to their communities last year would still answer the same. These Officers will join the 19,000 others already on the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial in Washington D.C. this week. Also carved into the memorial is the statement “It's not how these Officers died that made them heroes, it's how they lived”.

The week that encompasses May 15 was designated Police Memorial Week in 1962 by President Kennedy. Please join with me and the Greencastle Police Department in remembering our brothers and sisters who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us this week. Their families would welcome your prayers as they continue the healing process.