The ten men shown above gave the ultimate sacrifice in 2008. On May 8, 2009, I (along with a multitude of other Officers, families, friends, and citizens) made the trek to Sacramento to attend the Peace Officer’s Memorial.
The day started out meeting up with a dozen or so other Motors for some breakfast and then we ponied up and rode to the CHP Academy. At 0900 hours, we made the long, slow ride from the Academy to the State Capitol with all the lights a-blaze. It was incredibly moving to see so many people lining up along our route (which stretched for a number of miles). We saw people of every description. Some waved, some held signs thanking us, some smiled, some saluted, some held their hands over their hearts. But, to a person, they all appeared to be there to support us and the fallen.
It’s weird, and maybe a little sad, that I look forward to events like this. Obviously, I’d prefer to never have to attend one again, but I think we all know that won’t be the case. I look forward to them for the camaraderie it emboldens inside of us. You end up seeing folks you haven’t seen since that last Recon class or since the last year’s Memorial. You get to mix in with dozens of other agencies. You get to check out the latest gear, equipment, uniforms, Motors, etc. Personally, I think cops should just stop getting killed and we’ll just have a big ass BBQ every year so we can hang out and bullshit for a day.
After catching up with fellow Officers for a bit and everyone had arrived, the procession started. The Governator walked out along with other government cronie types. Then, the families started. It’s the part I hate. Seeing a five year old son wearing his Dad’s Medal of Valor absolutely breaks my fucking heart. It’s a terrible sight to behold. And then I notice he’s holding his seven year old sister’s hand and Mom is walking behind them trying to stay strong. I don’t know how she does it. She is stronger than I am.
Once the families are all settled, the talking heads stand up for their noon news sound bites. At this point, I tend to zone out and just look around. I take in the sheer volume of people that turned out to show their support. I look up at the Capitol building and see the sniper teams on the roof. We’re there to honor ten men…and we’re still working. Amazing.
I am brought back to the present when I hear the 21 gun salute and Taps hauntingly played by three trumpets spread out at three different locations around the square. I get that feeling like a hand has reached in, gripped my heart/lungs/stomach and gave it a squeeze. I had to shut my eyes to keep the tears at bay.
It was a rough day, to be sure. But it was also a day those men deserved. God bless them and their families.