It's happened again. Once more a promising young life has been extinguished for no discernible reason. Once again I will spit shine boots, affix ribbons, dust off my service cap and press out my class A uniform so that I can, once again, stand in ranks of other law enforcement officers at a memorial service. Yet again I will struggle to hold back tears as I hear the final call broadcast for a brother in arms, and try to suppress the lump in my throat as his wife, or perhaps his parents, cry out in anguish. I might even succeed at maintaining my bearing.
Sometimes I win that battle, sometimes I don't. And as I do struggle, I will, as I have done before, take note of those other law enforcement officers around me. Yes, some of them will be out of shape. Some of them, weary, in bodies aged and shaped by years of endless shifts, bad fast food and interrupted sleep cycles, will look too old for this job. Others will look like babies by comparison, as though they just stepped off a middle school bus and donned a uniform as a costume. Some will be chiseled specimens of muscle, with crisply pressed uniforms, steely gazes and high-and-tight haircuts. Some will be average looking Joes. There will be women and men, black, white and just about every other ethnic variation imaginable. They will, in other words, be an accurate reflection of the communities they serve.
Many will have traveled from out of state to attend the funeral, at their own expense.
The men and women who stand assembled in somber silence will, undoubtedly, reflect on the life of service that their fallen brother chose. They will examine their own path to the same career and many will recall their own close calls with death or the deaths of colleagues and friends that came before. They intimately know more than most that which many people spend their lives and good fortune trying to suppress: That death is inevitably going to come for us all. So they, like me, will not ponder long on whether or not this job is worth the risk.
For us, the answer is easy: Of course it is. As cliché as it may sound, it is a calling, something we do because we know the cause it righteous. But at the end of that memorial service, we will all get back in our cars, and go home. The question that always remains, the one that will follow most of us home and through the days and weeks ahead, is that of the family left behind. What will happen to his wife? His kids? How will she bear up under this weight? How will she handle his birthday? The holidays? What will their future be like?
I have often posted condolences on social media or news sites to express my sympathy and my empathy. With the advent of “crowdfunding”, though, I have seen something amazing, as I did with the tragic death of Greg Alia of the Forest Acres Police Department last year: We have a chance to actually help. We have a chance to do something that goes beyond mumbled words of condolence to his coworkers, downcast gazes and sympathetic gazes at his family. We have a chance to actually put words to action and stand in the gap for our fallen brother. When Greg Alia was murdered last year, in much the same manner Greenville Officer Allen Jacobs was recently murdered, his fraternity brothers created a crowdfunding link to receive donations to go to his family. Alia's widow Kassy said of the donations she received: “[They] provided Sal (her infant) and me with incredible financial resources which will support us the rest of our lives. That page facilitated offers for community support that have alleviated the pressures and strain of the aftermath of grief. That page garnered national attention and an outpouring of love and generosity that would help me continue to believe in humanity”.
Kassy Alia and the people responsible for setting up the funding page that helped her ensure a stable future for her and her son, have taken on the mantle of trying to help the family of Officer Jacobs. I truly believe that this platform is the perfect answer for us, actively serving in law enforcement, families of law enforcement, or grateful citizens who appreciate the ultimate sacrifice made by brave men and women cut from the same cloth as Officer Jacobs. This is a Godsend (for those of us that are Christians), as Jesus taught, that “where your treasure is your heart will be also”. This is the opportunity to give back to those who have lost so much for such a noble cause.
Yes, I am aware that Gofundme.com takes a small percentage of donations as a fee. I know that there are all manner of reasons that any one of us could use to convince ourselves not to give. I ask boldly and without shame not to give, but to just consider it. Mull it over and, if you feel led, by whatever principles guide you, then give. Let even just a small portion of your treasure follow your heart and help bring comfort to the widow and children of a true hero who gave everything in the service of his community. Thank you.
You can find the fundraising page BY CLICKING HERE.