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Balm for Abraded Spirits

 

I know. Hard to imagine that Donald J. Trump provided me with actual healing … but he did.

Police Week 2017 is, in many respects, just like Police Week 2016. Lots (and lots) of cops in uniform, lots of grieving widows and orphans, parents and cousins and co-workers and friends, gathering at the Memorial at Judiciary Square, making rubbings of their lost loved ones’ names engraved on the wall and covering the surfaces with lots of flowers, notes, kids’ drawings carefully captioned (DAD I AM OK I MISS YOU) and photographs and patches. Lots of guys marching around in kilts, their bagpipes wailing, drums thudding.

There were the usual ceremonies: The candlelight vigil followed by the Memorial Service, held on the lawn in front of the Capital on May 15, same as on every May 15 since 1982. The names of all the fallen are read, state by state, from Alabama to Wyoming. As usual (and may it remain so) the readers go straight from Louisiana to Maryland. No Maine names were added to the wall this year, thank God.

Police Week 2017 has something else in common with Police Week 2016. Both turned out to be political firsts.

In 2016, for the first time in the 36-year history of the event, neither the President of the United States, nor the Vice President bothered to show up to speak for and comfort those who mourned. The substitute speaker was a deputy attorney general, providing us with what was no doubt a carefully calibrated demonstration of the precise level of interest in the welfare of police officers and their families that the Obama administration considered it politic to display.

This year, for the first time in the 36 year history of the event, both the President of the United States and the Vice President came and spoke, accompanied by the Attorney General.

Here is some of what Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to say about police officers who died in the line of duty (he spoke at the Candlelight Vigil on May 13):

So tonight, we mourn their loss; we remember their stories; and we celebrate the gift of ordered liberty that they helped to secure. …to all those serving here I have a simple message for each of you: We have your back and you have our thanks.

I believe it is one of the highest callings of my job to call attention to your successes and encourage our fellow citizens to support you in your difficult and dangerous work. And as long as I am the Attorney General of the United States, the Department of Justice will have the back of all honest and honorable law enforcement officers.

Some of my Rico-Friends may recall that, during the election, I decided that I would henceforth be a two-issue voter: I care about the well-being of police officers, and I care about the well-being of black Americans (overlapping groups, may I remind you). Well, just as he did during the campaign, Trump managed to hit both of my civic buttons in his speech at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service [excerpts]:

Because you do not hear nearly enough, I want you to know that patriotic Americans of all backgrounds truly support and love our police. (Applause.)

And a very sad thing is that many of today’s politicians don’t want to say that, don’t want to talk about that because it’s not politically correct or they think it might hurt them with the voters. I will say it and I will talk about it proudly. (Applause.) I will make it the personal priority of my administration to ensure that our police are finally treated fairly, with honor and respect that they deserve. (Applause.)

To all Americans watching this event today, next time you see a cop on the beat, take a moment to say two wonderful words, which they so readily deserve: Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)

When policing is reduced, it’s often the poorest and most vulnerable Americans who are the first to suffer. We have all seen the tragic rise in violence and crimes in many of our disadvantaged communities. We’ve seen the unbearable horror of the shortcomings in Baltimore and Chicago that have cut short so many lives and so many beautiful, beautiful dreams.

We cannot stand for such violence. We cannot tolerate such pain. We cannot, under any circumstances, any longer turn a blind eye to this suffering that’s going on any longer. And we won’t. (Applause.)

Yes, his speech was repetitive. Yes, he punctuated it with his usual odd verbal tics (“believe me” and “big league”). But it was a nice speech, folksy and sincere, and the assembled cops breathed a long, collective sigh of relief. It was as if our collective skin, scraped raw by these past few years, had finally been offered healing balm.

And then, when night fell, the White House was lit up in blue.

Published in Policing
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Members have made 21 comments.

  1. Profile photo of Mountie Member

    I was in DC on Friday. Here is a handful of pictures of the honor guard escorting the families of the fallen off of the plane at Reagan. It was a moving experience. I cried.

    • #1
    • May 16, 2017 at 6:47 pm
    • Like18 likes
  2. Profile photo of 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    Kate Braestrup: “…we celebrate the gift of ordered liberty that they helped to secure.”

    The gift of ordered liberty…what a wonderful phrase. Such a shame that so many do not realize that without order there can be no true liberty.

    • #2
    • May 16, 2017 at 7:00 pm
    • Like16 likes
  3. Profile photo of AUMom Member

    May you feel the love from us as well, @katebraestrup. There are three law enforcement officers in our church family. Every officer down in any part of the country makes me think of them and of you. Prayers for your (and their) safety. Blessings on you as your abrasions heal.

    • #3
    • May 16, 2017 at 8:10 pm
    • Like6 likes
  4. Profile photo of Doug Watt Member

    There are so many acts of kindness and bravery that are at times only known to the officer involved, or his/her fellow officers that share a roll call room. There are times when officers across the country mourn as one. I’m glad that President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Attorney General Sessions found the time to offer their respects to the families that have lost a loved one, and offer their respect to the officers that have lost a fellow officer.

    • #4
    • May 16, 2017 at 8:39 pm
    • Like12 likes
  5. Profile photo of Nanda Panjandrum Thatcher

    So glad to *finally* see something like this, Kate…Panda Hugs to share!

    • #5
    • May 16, 2017 at 9:11 pm
    • Like4 likes
  6. Profile photo of iWe Reagan
    iWe

    A lovely post. Thank you!

    • #6
    • May 16, 2017 at 9:45 pm
    • Like5 likes
  7. Profile photo of Arahant Member

    As the son, brother, nephew, and cousin of law enforcement officers, I am very glad to hear it. For this alone, I could happily cheer this administration on.

    • #7
    • May 17, 2017 at 3:33 am
    • Like8 likes
  8. Profile photo of ST Coolidge
    ST

    DAD I AM OK I MISS YOU

    Heart-wrenching. Screen suddenly blurry.

    • #8
    • May 17, 2017 at 4:09 am
    • Like10 likes
  9. Profile photo of Front Seat Cat Member

    Thanks for sharing this – and jolting us back to what is important.

    • #9
    • May 17, 2017 at 9:58 am
    • Like5 likes
  10. Profile photo of NigelT Member

    When something is right, you just feel it. This very topic is the main reason I’ve come to support Trump. Thank God the last 8 years are finally over.

    • #10
    • May 17, 2017 at 12:18 pm
    • Like7 likes
  11. Profile photo of Susan Quinn Contributor

    Thank you, Kate, for telling us about this memorial. Thank you for, in one sense, representing all of us. I’m so glad that Trump, Pence and Sessions attended, too.

    • #11
    • May 17, 2017 at 12:46 pm
    • Like5 likes
  12. Profile photo of Anamcara Member

    I thank you for posting this. It is balm for me too.

    • #12
    • May 17, 2017 at 3:03 pm
    • Like4 likes
  13. Profile photo of MarciN Member

    Kate Braestrup: This year, for the first time in the 36 year history of the event, both the President of the United States and the Vice President came and spoke, accompanied by the Attorney General.

    Wow. This is awesome.

    Thank you, Kate, for writing this post.

    • #13
    • May 17, 2017 at 10:11 pm
    • Like3 likes
  14. Profile photo of MarciN Member

    Kate Braestrup:

    President Trump: When policing is reduced, it’s often the poorest and most vulnerable Americans who are the first to suffer. We have all seen the tragic rise in violence and crimes in many of our disadvantaged communities. We’ve seen the unbearable horror of the shortcomings in Baltimore and Chicago that have cut short so many lives and so many beautiful, beautiful dreams.

    Bless Donald Trump.

    It is so true.

    • #14
    • May 17, 2017 at 10:20 pm
    • Like2 likes
  15. Profile photo of Henry Castaigne Member

    Men must always die so that we have the order to live in freedom. That isn’t ever going to go away. What we must always do is honor those men and women who die… and kill for our freedom. It is entirely appropriate that high level members of the Executive office do this.

    • #15
    • May 18, 2017 at 1:57 am
    • Like5 likes
  16. Profile photo of Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup Post author

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Men must always die so that we have the order to live in freedom. That isn’t ever going to go away. What we must always do is honor those men and women who die… and kill for our freedom. It is entirely appropriate that high level members of the Executive office do this.

    Henry, when you know or “know” the people whose names are on the wall, hear their stories and see the agony of their loved ones, absorb that incredible reality—every single one of them was as real, complex, funny, interesting and adored as my own Drew… well, there is a moment when I, at least, thought “no, it’s too much. We can’t do this. We have to stop. The cost is too high.” And then, of course, the instant answer: the cost must be paid. There’s no way out, no “I’m already against the next war” button I can wear: when some desperate soul calls 911, an irreplaceable person has to respond, no matter what the problem is. The problems aren’t going to evaporate, and we don’t have any “replaceable” people to send.

    • #16
    • May 18, 2017 at 6:24 am
    • Like8 likes
  17. Profile photo of Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup Post author

    Another fine, healing experience for me was meeting up with a couple of LEO chaplains I’d only met via email before— what fantastic pastors are out there, showing up and being with people (and cops) in crisis. I told my husband that it made me feel agreeably superfluous to requirements. Or, as the saying goes, when I retire (if I retire?) the gap I leave will be filled as quickly as the gap my hand leaves behind in a bucket of water!

    • #17
    • May 18, 2017 at 9:59 am
    • Like4 likes
  18. Profile photo of AUMom Member

    Kate Braestrup (View Comment):
    Another fine, healing experience for me was meeting up with a couple of LEO chaplains I’d only met via email before— what fantastic pastors are out there, showing up and being with people (and cops) in crisis. I told my husband that it made me feel agreeably superfluous to requirements. Or, as the saying goes, when I retire (if I retire?) the gap I leave will be filled as quickly as the gap my hand leaves behind in a bucket of water!

    Somehow I doubt this. You change lives—our lives, and most of us only know you virtually.

    • #18
    • May 18, 2017 at 10:43 am
    • Like4 likes
  19. Profile photo of Nanda Panjandrum Thatcher

    AUMom (View Comment):

    Kate Braestrup (View Comment):
    Another fine, healing experience for me was meeting up with a couple of LEO chaplains I’d only met via email before— what fantastic pastors are out there, showing up and being with people (and cops) in crisis. I told my husband that it made me feel agreeably superfluous to requirements. Or, as the saying goes, when I retire (if I retire?) the gap I leave will be filled as quickly as the gap my hand leaves behind in a bucket of water!

    Somehow I doubt this. You change lives—our lives, and most of us only know you virtually.

    You are a treasured virtual colleague and friend; whose friendship I hope to actualize/realize in God’s time…You’re stuck with us, Kate!

    • #19
    • May 18, 2017 at 10:50 am
    • Like4 likes
  20. Profile photo of Henry Castaigne Member

    @ Kate Braestrup

    I don’t think you are that replaceable.

    • #20
    • May 18, 2017 at 10:50 am
    • Like3 likes
  21. Profile photo of Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup Post author

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):

    AUMom (View Comment):

    Kate Braestrup (View Comment):
    Another fine, healing experience for me was meeting up with a couple of LEO chaplains I’d only met via email before— what fantastic pastors are out there, showing up and being with people (and cops) in crisis. I told my husband that it made me feel agreeably superfluous to requirements. Or, as the saying goes, when I retire (if I retire?) the gap I leave will be filled as quickly as the gap my hand leaves behind in a bucket of water!

    Somehow I doubt this. You change lives—our lives, and most of us only know you virtually.

    You are a treasured virtual colleague and friend; whose friendship I hope to actualize/realize in God’s time…You’re stuck with us, Kate!

    i like being stuck with people, Nanda…!

    • #21
    • May 18, 2017 at 5:16 pm
    • Like3 likes