Editor’s note: The following was originally published by Emily Jacobson here.
End of watch.
We have the line from here.
Good work brother.
These phrases might not mean much to others, but to the Law Enforcement community they can only mean one thing…. a member of their family is gone forever. Gone, but NEVER forgotten.
That’s right, their family member.
Their brother in blue has completed his watch and his brothers and sisters will hold the line from here.
The Thin Blue Line.
As I attended the funeral today of a young police officer, I realized in an instant that the Blue Line is anything but thin.
A virtual sea of blue and brown uniforms surrounded and filled the church as I followed my husband inside to pay his last respects to his fallen brother.
He has done this too many times. He will have to do this again.
As the wife of a Law Enforcement Officer, I have had the privilege of feeling a part of this family. In many ways, the wives of officers are their own separate family.
We support each other, help each other, band together when needed and share advice on how to best support and sometimes deal with our husbands and their chosen profession.
I thought I had an understanding of what we are a part of. I thought I gave it the appreciation and reverence it deserves.
I was wrong.
Being in the presence of the uniformed officers who had come together to grieve the loss of one of their own made me realize I didn’t have a clue that the amount of support earned by wearing the uniform carried this much weight.
We entered the church lobby and I immediately noticed that no one had dared to enter the sanctuary where the funeral would take place.
Feeling a bit out of place and unsure of what we were waiting for, I decided that staying close to my husband would at least give me someone to follow, “he knows what to do” I thought.
“OFFICERS! ATTENTION!” demanded a uniformed man from the front of the group.
The sound of hundreds of shined boots coming together all at once took my breath away. Silence sliced through the room and all eyes stared straight forward as the family of the deceased entered the room and made their way into the sanctuary. Only after the family was settled did the officers “fall out” and go back to their quiet chatter.
These friends, these brothers, shook hands, hugged and some cried. They had bright smiles upon seeing friends from old departments that faded quickly as they were reminded of why they were coming together this day.
The black line across their badges was a stark reminder that one of theirs was gone.
As we filled into the sanctuary, we were seated behind the family, then the department the deceased worked for. All uniformed officers were invited to sit next followed by civilians.
Not a whisper was breathed as the Colors were presented by LEMA and brought up to the alter.
We spent the service stoically listening to the minister, laughing at stories shared fondly and occasionally shedding tears with others who were pained and grieving.
As we were being dismissed from the church pews, my husband leaned over and whispered, “grab your coat as quickly as possible, we are heading outside”.
I thought it odd that he would want to leave so abruptly, but I grabbed my coat and naively followed him, thinking we were heading for the car.
Instead he walked with purpose and fell into line with the rest of his fellow officers outside of the church. Everyone was silent as they lined up perfectly in front of the fire trucks with their engines running.
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We listened to the slow hum..hum..chug…chug… of the fire truck’s engine as we tried to ignore that the air temp was only 10 degrees. The wind whistled by as I watched the hands of the officers in front of us ball into fists.
There was a slight rustling as bodies shivered against their uniforms and moved over appropriately for the additional officers filing into formation.
It struck me that they ALL knew what to do. They knew where to go, where to stand, and not to move once their position was secured.
It hit me then that most of them had done this before. Many will do this again.
Suddenly all of the truck engines were cut. A deep, cold silence fell again.
The boots slammed together again and I was awe struck as I noticed that none of them were shivering any longer.
Through sheer will and determination they were able to fight their bodies to remain still and go against any movement nature was trying to force upon them.
The family followed the casket to the hearse awaiting the officer’s arrival. Once the family proceeded back into the church, “Officers, Fall Out.” was called and they fell back a step and began shivering again.
I have never witnessed anything so powerful in my entire life.
We piled back into the lobby of the church where more hand shaking and story telling was done. Hugs, smiles, tears, and pats on the back were not in short supply.
These men and women were all here to say good bye to their friend, their co worker, their brother. They were here for him as well as his family.
They were also here for each other.
“I got your six”, “take care of yourself”, “learn how to shine those boots buddy” followed by some much needed laughter.
It was all needed. It was all necessary.
The funeral procession was lead away from the church and out to the cemetery by dozens of police cars. Volunteer officers directed traffic to ensure they could safely navigate out onto the roads.
I am a civilian that has an up close look into their world, but I am not one of them.
I am not the one who took the oath to put my community above myself at all costs.
I am not the one who fears for the life of my friends and myself each day just for doing my job.
I am not the one who has to accept death, sadness and evil as a possible part of my work day.
I am not the one who has to bear the brunt of the media, of people who used to be friends, of people who have no understanding as they give their two scents into how I’m supposed to perform my duties.
I am not the one working in a profession with a higher suicide rate than any other career choice.
I am not the one who buried a brother today.
But I love someone who is.
As such, I was allowed a glimpse into their world today and was honored to bear witness to the strength of this family. The amount of support, honor, respect and reverence……
It was a sight to behold.
This is written in honor of all the men and women that serve as the Thin Blue Line between evil and the rest of us. I thank each and every one of you for your service, dedication, commitment, and sacrifice.
Thank you…..for everything.
-Written by Emily Jacobson
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