Those memories hurt. Losing an officer, regardless of the circumstances, doesn’t come without pain.
Yet, Tuesday’s service reminded us why we so value those in uniform — the people whose profession is built on the concept of protecting the public.
It reminded us of duty. Of commitment to the greater good. And of gratitude.
Sollohub, killed last August, wasn’t the only U.S. officer who died in the line of duty in 2011. The facts are grim. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial Fund, 166 officers died in the line of duty last year, either through shootings, traffic-related deaths or by some other means. That’s a 14 percent increase over the year before.
In other words, the emotions felt throughout Calhoun County over Solluhub’s death last year were replicated over and over across the United States in 2011. Given that, it’s no surprise that Tuesday’s service was attended by hundreds of family members and friends of America’s fallen officers.
Clearly, these solemn words from President Obama’s speech are worth repeating. “The rest of us can never fully understand what you (officers and their families) go through, but please know we hold you in our hearts, not just now but always. We are forever in your debt.”
In times like these — where we’re reminded of flag-draped coffins — it’s all-too easy to digress into discussions about rising crime rates, the deterioration of our neighborhoods and the impact drug crimes have on U.S. society. They’re all worthy topics. But let’s save them for later.
Instead, let’s focus on the dedication and bravery of those in uniform — whether they’re protecting us from those who mean us harm or rescuing us from a two-alarm fire. Those who protect the public are worthy of salute. The best among them are a special breed, as the president said eloquently on Tuesday.
Anniston is a textbook example of what it’s like to wear a badge in America. Anniston police work in a substandard building that’s beyond repair. It took months of political shenanigans for the City Council to finally agree to replace it with a modern judicial complex. And the starting salary for entry-level officers, per the department’s website, is barely $28,000 a year.
On that salary, men and women in Anniston risk their lives to protect the lives of others.
How we thank them says much about who we are and what we value.