I was asked recently what the black band across my badge was for. I answered the question as cooly and honestly as I could, without judgement or emotion. But that's the problem. It's hard to talk about that little black band without emotion.
You see, that little black band represents the fallen officer. The ones that never came home at the end of the day. It represents sacrifice, loss, and sadness. It stands for an empty seat at the dinner table, a missing brother, sister, son, daughter, mother, or father. The loss is felt by many. All that emotion, that loss, that sacrifice, represented by a little black elastic band placed around a shiny badge.
The badge feels much heavier when the band is fixed around it. The symbolism that it holds is emotional and heavy. When you wear a badge that has the band on your uniform, it is a constant reminder every time you see it that life is fragile. That you might not make it home at the end of the shift.
We have almost become numb, as a society, to the loss and sacrifice of our emergency workers.
Police, fire and military personnel have laid their lives down for centuries protecting the lives of the
often ungrateful masses. It has become expected in TV shows and movies to loose the unnamed
patrolman, or soldier for that big climax in action, while we glorify the antagonist in their evil scheme against the almighty hero in the story. But those unnamed heroes leave behind a void. The only time
in stories their identity is even known, or mentioned, is if it moves the story along, and adds conflict in the heroes heart and mind. I can see this happening in real life, as news reports tell stories of "an officer", or "soldiers" who were hurt or killed in the line of duty. If you are lucky, the local news MIGHT run the story identifying the unsung hero and his sacrifice.
It just so happens to be Police Week this week. Tonight, Wednesday 05-13-15, is the candle light vigil at the memorial. Now, admittingly, I won't be there. One year I hope to attend. This ceremony marks the addition of the names of the fallen officers from 2014 to the memorial wall in D.C.
273 names will be added to the wall this year. 117 from 2014. For the complete list go here:
The memorial website is here: www.nloemf.org If you have some time, check it out. If you live near D.C., visit it once. It's a powerful place. I've been a few times, and each time is just as powerful as the first.
On the walls, there are 4 inscriptions. Each of them are inscribed on the four ends of the two long walls containing the names of fallen officers. The inscriptions are on a panel underneath a lion.
These quotes serve to remind us of sacrifice. Of sons and daughters turned into heroes as they make the career choice to serve their public, and don a uniform, pin on a badge, strap on a gun, and enter the profession of law enforcement.
Every day I put my uniform on, I know, buried deep down and shoved away in the corners of my mind, that I might not come home. When you have that black band on, it comes to the front of your mind. This year, I think it's been a little closer to home, as one of our officers in my department was almost a statistic. A name on the wall, and a reason to wear the band.
In John 15 when asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied that the greatest commandment was to love your neighbor. In John 15:13, Jesus states, "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends".
Not only does an officer lay down his life for his friends, and family, but often, he lays down his life for strangers that he has sworn to protect and serve. His community.
Stay safe out there,