The police officer who puts [his/her] life on the line with no superpowers, no X-Ray vision, no super-strength, no ability to fly, and above all no invulnerability to bullets, reveals far greater virtue than Superman– who is only a mere superhero.
Today is National Thank A Police Officer Day. And in a moment, I’m going to offer some suggestions of ways in which you can thank an officer for his/her willingness to sacrifice for the safety of others, but before that, I want to share with you my reasons to thank them.
One of the first conversations J and I had when we were “serious enough to consider marriage,” was why in the world I would marry him. I didn’t have to blink, or even really think about why I would. My first response was “you make me feel safe- emotionally and physically safe.” Feeling safe is an essential quality in any relationship. Whether it be in friendship or a romantic relationship, we are drawn to exposing our true selves to that person because in some ways they make us feel safe.
It came as no surprise to me that later on J would choose to become an officer. Making people feel safe was a specialty of his. As well as telling people what to do ;). Both of these qualities are at the core of an officer, but many people possess those exact same qualities, and would never make a great officer. The difference in J and his millions of brothers and sisters in blue, is their willingness to sacrifice. I won’t go into tremendous detail on the topic of sacrifice. If you keep up with my blogs, you know my feelings on the topic. But today, and every day, I’m thanking police officers for their willingness to keep sacrificing for me and C. Yes, I could thank them for the hundreds of calls they run a year, for standing out in the rain for hours working an accident, for skipping lunch and diner sometimes because there are 5 calls backed up in the system. But instead, today, I’m keeping it personal.
To MY brothers and sisters in blue, and their families too, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your willingness to continue to sacrifice after J made the ultimate sacrifice. So many of you have sacrificed your time, money, items, etc in order to help C and me after J died. The calls, check-ups, “how are you’s,” haven’t stopped. When I made it to the ER on the morning J was hit, some of you were there before me. Wives stood beside me in their PJ’s and bed hair, they prayed with me, braved the unknown with me, and most importantly were there for me. Many other wives, even though your kids required you to stay home, you sacrificed your sleep in order to pray for me at home. I felt those prayers- I promise. While their wives were praying with me, all of J’s brothers in blue were actively searching. Other officers were running calls, so that the man who hit J could be found as quickly as possible. All of them, STILL working, after what had just happened to J. Then, when the man was caught, you all stayed up for DAYS with me. You slept in recliners, you worked OT so that other officers could be with me. You cried with me, you gave me words of encouragement, and sometimes when you didn’t know what to say- you simply just hugged me. You all were a tremendous source of my strength.
After J died, all of us were in shock, but none of you let that get in the way of your jobs. For J’s brothers in blue at previous departments, many of you dropped everything to be with me. And even if you couldn’t, you made sure I felt your love in various ways. But, the sacrifices didn’t stop after his death- they increased. Often times I refer to you guys as super heroes, even that grandiose of a term, doesn’t come close to what each of you do daily. Today, I want to thank each of you, for giving me back the sense of safety that I lost when J died. My blue family, you are my sense of safety. Thank you for giving me back a sense of safety that I felt was violently robbed from me on the night of June 14th. Thank you for celebrating in my successes, for celebrating in my successes, for baking me apple pies, for being up HOURS with me in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep, for helping my son remember the amazing man his daddy was, and for a million more things you EACH do for me daily. You are my family and thank you for being that.
Now, let’s discuss some ways that maybe you can pay it forward to an officer today. Before we begin, please understand the mentality of an officer. They will probably have no idea what to say to you in return, they may appear a little taken aback by your kindness, and please don’t take that negatively. I can assure you, in an officer’s world, words of kindness are far less heard than words of negativity. Plus, none of these officers perform their duties with a need for recognition. They don’t expect it, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t deserving of it.
So, here are just a few ways that I think would make an officer’s day:
1. Find a specific aspect to thank them for: Saying thank you is wonderful, but make it specific. Thank them for their willingness to leave their families behind daily. Or maybe thank them for something specific an officer has done for you in the past. You don’t have to thank that specific officer if you can’t. Because in their line of work, any officer would have probably done the same thing for you.
2. Mail a thank you letter to your local police department, and even your state police: Your gratitude doesn’t have to end or even be expressed on September 21st. Let them know you are grateful after today. Make it a personal letter. Thank them for fighting what you fear.
3. Teach your kids to be grateful for an officer: Have them color a card and give it to a random officer or mail it to a department. While they are coloring, discuss with them how important an officer is, and how they deserve our respect.
4. Buy them lunch, or present one with a gift card: So often those who wear the blue uniform forgo lunch and dinner in an effort to catch up on backed up calls. J often told me stories of leaving his food at the drive through window to respond to a call in progress. Many of our officers eat 6 hour old corn dogs from gas stations, a random package of mint M&M’s, a can of soup without a spoon that they found tucked into their duty bag. Believe me, an officer appreciates good food.
5. Bake the department something: I promise, officers eat anything! Before you bake them something, please consider that departments have numerous shifts. It isn’t just day officers who help protect us. Partner up with a friend, and bake something for all the shifts at your local department.
6. Donate money to your local department: All your departments have training budgets that are depleted quickly. Officer safety is important because of their own families, but it is also important because a safe officer makes you even more safe. Ask to donate to their training fund.
7. Thank an officer’s family: This officer you see daily, is what he/she is, because his/her family is supportive. They sacrifice just as much as the officer’s do. They are the pink behind the thin blue line, and they deserve a thank you as well. If you see an officer and his family out to dinner in the future, cover their ticket, or at least help pay for it.
8. Tell them you are praying for them, and really mean it: We’ve always prayed for officers and their families, but now, we pray for them all the time. When you see an officer responding to a call, take the time to ask God to protect him/her as they perform the duties few are brave enough to do. Honestly, this is the very best thing you can do for them!
I encourage you to allow your gratitude to extend past today. A wise dear friend of mine told me once to have an attitude of gratitude. This phrase has allowed me to generally remain positive throughout the this storm in my life. Today, thank an officer in some way, and while doing so, remember that it could have been any of them and their families who gave the ultimate sacrifice. And remember, that EACH of them would have done so willingly. I’ve yet to be able to truly define what being an officer is like. Their bravery, and ability to withstand pressures, is often times likened to a superhero. While that’s close, I don’t think it gives them enough credit. So, until I find a way to describe them, I’m just going to keep praying that our nation will begin raise the title of police officer to be synonymous with the status we give superheroes. That our nation will truly begin to be grateful for the sacrifices made. And until that happens, I’m just going to keep praying for my blue family. After all they’ve done for me, it’s the least I can do for them.
Today, when you thank a police officer – think of J and know it’s putting a smile on his face, and then say a little pray for us as we continue to work through paying the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you in advance for expressing your gratitude today and in the future!!