Doesn’t it seem like we are always reading about another LEO injured or killed in the line of duty? Some of the tragedies seem a million miles away and some happen right in our backyard. Most of us have attended funerals, donated to police charities, and put on the black mourning band for a fallen officer. We want to DO something, but are unsure exactly how to help. This feeling bothered me for a long time. I wanted a unique idea to show that I cared about fallen LEOs.
So many ideas went in and out of my head. However, most of them closely resembled other great ideas and causes that already existed. A sweet elderly lady, Dorothy, finally inspired me.
Dorothy called the police one night because the motion light in her backyard had been going on and off for hours. She was worried because it normally doesn’t come on at all. It had been windy all shift, so I immediately had my suspicions about the culprit.
Nevertheless, we told her that we would check around the house and let her know if we found anything. Sure enough, a towel that Dorothy had left hanging on the clothes line was blowing in the wind and caused her motion light to activate. We removed the towel and brought it to her with an explanation as to what had been happening.
She thanked us and apologized for wasting our time. We told her that we were glad to help her and her apology was not necessary. Dorothy explained to us that since her husband George had recently passed, she was often afraid to be in the house alone during the night. She took us to a small table in the corner of her living room that was filled with pictures and other memorabilia of her late husband. It really was an impressive tribute to the man’s life.
We saw everything from serious faced military portraits to a funny picture where George had been the unfortunate victim of a pie in the face. It was at that moment I realized that most people simply want to feel like people care about their loss. They just want their loved one to be remembered. The few minutes my partner and I stood there and listened to Dorothy give us the background behind each picture brought a smile to her face. We couldn’t help but laugh along with her at a couple of them.
I guess I had just never realized how much of an impact remembering someone, whether you knew them or not, can have on a grieving family. My partner and I told Dorothy we were sorry about George and that we would check back on her place periodically. We went back to the grind of our graveyard shift with heavy hearts that night.
While I was driving around later my mind began to wander. It’s amazing what you think about when you’re driving around at 3 am and you’re the only car on the road. Eventually my thinking of Dorothy and George reminded me of a TV series I had recently watched called Everest: Beyond the Limit.
The Discovery Channel series followed climbers who were attempting to reach the summit of Mount Everest. I watched with great interest as mountain climbing had recently become a passion of mine. In one episode, a climber who had reached the top of the world pulled out a picture of his late father. He talked for a minute about how he had climbed to honor his dad and always wanted him to be remembered.
I realized then exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to remember fallen officers by taking flags bearing their names to the summits of mountains as a tribute to their sacrifice. I decided the organization would be called “Climbing for the Fallen” (CFTF).
The idea is now in the infant stages of existence. Our first summit flag is currently being created and mountain climbing trips have been planned. We will be doing at least two climbs this year, one of Mount Katahdin in Maine and one of Mount Rainier in Washington. Our ultimate goal is to eventually become an organization that will raise money to help fallen officer’s families or to donate to a larger police charity.
I hope that these climbs will show the families, friends, and co-workers of fallen officer’s that they have not been forgotten and never will be. But will instead show them that they are remembered, and their sacrifice is honored everyday by the brave men and women who put on a gun and a badge and do this dangerous job.
Please like us Facebook or email us if you have questions or comments. We plan to update the Facebook page daily with news and photos about CFTF and our climbs. Stay safe my brothers and sisters.
Andrew Courter is married and originally from the western New York. He began his law enforcement career as a military police officer and currently serves in the Washington, DC area. Like Andrew’s cause on Facebook at Climbing for the Fallen; www.facebook.com/climbingforthefallen Email him at [email protected]