To Serve and Protect

“Not all men are created equal, but only the finest men become police officers,” this anonymous quote is embroidered in thick, black letters on an oval shaped slab of concrete resting in the center of my backyard garden. My hero may not have a cape or a mask, but he does have a badge. My dad, Officer Wierenga, is my Michigan hero.

My dad is a police officer, if you haven’t figured that out yet. Everyday he is a hero. It’s his job.

Everyday, as soon as police officers put on that dark navy blue uniform with their gold and navy badges, they are at risk of danger. On a daily basis, they dangle their lives on the line.

A police officer’s daily routine consists of responding to crashes, domestic violence, homicides, murders, shootings and many more dangerous situations.

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Officer Mike Wierenga with daughter, Mahala. (Courtesy Mike Wierenga)

My mother recently told me on this past September 11, the day the twin towers collapsed in 2001, that she realized something that changed her perspective on the job my dad fulfills. She informed me that while she was intensely peering at the news on September 11, 2001, a picture of a police officer stumbling out of the smoke, with an old, black sock over his mouth to keep him from inhaling the smoke and chemicals, was displayed. She told me that that was the moment she truly understood what my dad did for a living. While everyone flees from the danger, police officers rush towards it, to help people. I don’t know how anyone can deny that from being heroic.

The media, the news, and just people in general, can make police officers look so horrible, and make it seem like they are heartless monsters. But in reality, most of them are understanding and caring.

Police officers often get accused of arresting someone just because of their race. Honestly, I don’t know why people would say that, especially if they know what they were doing was wrong or illegal. Police officers are just following protocol and doing their job, enforcing the law and keeping the city and its people safe.

As a police officer, my dad has gone through some difficult times, and that can sometimes affect my family, especially me being old enough to understand and know what’s going on in this world.

Despite all of the injustice and false accusations police officers go through, my dad has pushed through it all and has kept going; pushing through and not letting anything get in his way of doing something he loves, despite all the false accusations, is heroic.

Aside from being a police officer, my dad has a side business, 2TheRescue. It is a program where my dad and Terry, his business partner, instruct other policemen, firemen, and paramedics, also known as first responders, about different topics.

They can go from instructing a class on how to drive a big, red, white, or blue emergency vehicle with lights blaring on top safely, to teaching a class on how to deal with all the trauma first responders experience throughout their daily lives while on duty.

Being a spouse of a first responder is hard. When your husband or wife comes home from an extensive, tiring, and difficult day, they start to really process what happened.

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Mahala Wierenga. (Mike Wierenga)

Everyone has different ways of coping, and that can be hard to understand as a spouse of a first responder. In my opinion, this is one of the most important classes my dad teaches. He helps the spouses of first responders understand what happens in first responders lives and how to help them process and cope with the trauma they’ve seen.

You may be thinking, she’s overreacting or it’s not that hard to be a first responder. Yes, I know I am only in 8th grade, but as the oldest daughter of a police officer, and knowing what happens in my dad’s daily life as a policeman, I know a thing or two about how stressful and difficult their days can be as first responders.

One goal that I have always wanted to do in life is help people. I have always wanted to make an impact on other people’s lives. That’s one trait my dad and I share in common, we both want to help people. My dad has already accomplished this goal, teaching me to be kind, caring, and to find something you love and pursue it along the way. I strive to become like my dad one day, a hero.

Michael
Hero
Passionate, loving, funny, hardworking
Lover of family, teaching, and being on the water
Who believes in education and training to better
Individuals, so that they can gain knowledge of certain topics
Who wants to teach others, help people, and impact people’s lives for the better
Who uses laughter to brighten people’s day, kindness to treat people with respect and to spread love; and passion to teach
Who gives love, support, and time
Who says “If I die tomorrow, I will have no regrets, for I have lived a happy and successful life”
Wierenga

– Mahala Wierenga, 8th grade daughter of Officer Mike Wierenga