Two times in the last 24 hours I have had to update our officer down memorial page. If you keep up on law enforcement news nationwide, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. One of the most touching things I have seen, was NYPD giving their most recent fallen officer, Randolph Holder, the final salute as his body was escorted to the Harlem Medical Center. There is a lot to be said about this final salute officers were giving to their fallen brother as he passed by them. It is truly unfortunate that we must use the phrase “most recent fallen brother”, as it signifies that he is not the first, and most tragically will not be the last.
The public will see this fallen salute as a gathering of mourners to honor their fallen brother as he physically passes them for, possibly, the last time on this physical earth. While this is definitely a piece of the big picture, it is certainly not the only reason we offer up this symbol of thanks.
To us, as law enforcement officers, this final salute means so much more than an act of mourning and saying “goodbye”.
This final salute is us allowing the body of our fallen brother, along with his spirit, know that we honor him, we thank him and we carry on the torch of justice and peace even though he may be physically leaving this earth. We are saying to the world that this man or woman has not died in vain, but, rather, has died doing what we all love to do, serve the public and defend the defenseless. Our final salute is telling our fallen brother that he is not alone in his journey, that he carries the support and the solitude of all those he has left on earth. The final salute is allowing the family to know that they have a sea, a nation, of men and women in blue supporting them throughout the rest of their lives. The final salute allows all to know that our fallen brother is not, and will never be, forgotten.
Our fallen will enter a special place in heaven, where God’s most blessed children reside. Police officers who have given the ultimate sacrifice will wear the badge and the wings of Heaven’s most coveted warriors. These men and women have stood in the face of evil, of difficulty, have fought in this world’s most righteous battles. They have not failed in what they have done. They have not fallen because of their failures. They have fallen in the process of pursuing a justice many refuse to seek.
The most unique aspect and characteristic of a police officer is that they can be scared, and will be scared, in many of the situations they face, yet they continue on a straight a narrow path despite the dangers that lie in front of them. Many would run, hide, and seek safety for themselves in the same situations; however, an officer, knowing the people he defends, will continue towards the threat, knowing this may be his final opportunity to stand for what is right in this world. No one should ever doubt that an officer has fallen doing what he or she loves. If the love for the public, the outright love for total strangers, wasn’t present in the mind of a police officer, he wouldn’t advance towards a threat, he wouldn’t pursue a dangerous suspect, he wouldn’t place himself in harm’s way, every single hour, of every single day.
The work of a police officer is often dull and repetitive, making traffic stops without incident, responding to alarm drops that are often inadvertent mistakes or a technological malfunction, quelling neighborly disturbances, etc. However, we live and we die by the calls that we go into with our heads held high, knowing that what we are about to do could possibly bring a truly bad person to justice, or help save the lives of the strangers we give our undying love and dedication to. While we do not hope for and seek dangerous situations, we will respond none-the-less. We will respond with an appropriate level of fear that will guide our tactics and keep us safe. The final salute is a promise from all officers to uphold this level of professionalism, this level of bravery, this level of outright heroism.
The final salute is our acknowledgement of the sad fact that you are physically gone, but that you will NEVER be forgotten.
To you, my fallen brothers and sisters, rest easy on the peaceful streets of heaven, as you continue your unwavering and never-ending beat, for you have already served your time in hell.