I can’t go to bed tonight without writing this short but meaningful and very dear to my heart note about today’s events.
December 8, 2009. Today, the memorial for the four fallen Lakewood Police Officers was held at the Tacoma Dome. As I watched live news feed of the 20-mile long procession that began at McChord Air-force base this morning, I couldn’t help but feel the despair of this tragedy. I can offer no words that fully explain the gash this tragedy has had on the community and policing institution. I can neither offer any words that fully express my gratitude and sense of awe today watching bits and pieces of the memorial service on the news.
Thiry rows deep and a quarter of half mile long, hundreds to thousands of police and fire vehicles lined up with sirens flashing waiting their turn to join the procession in honor of the fallen officers early this morning. For three and half hours beginning at 10am, this procession line made the 10-mile trek to the Tacoma Dome for the official memorial service. An American flag was hung three-stories high by two firefighter department ladder trucks of which the entire procession line passed beneath. At least 261 different agencies from around the country were represented at today’s honoring of the Lakewood officers including agencies from New York, Chicago, and Boston. Over 1,000 Canadian Mounties marched the street of Tacoma up into the Dome to attend the memorial service.
The streets from Lakewood to Tacoma were lined this morning (even in the 12 degree weather) with residents from around the area saluting and holding signs and American flags. Children took the day off from school and adults, the day off of work to show their appreciation and to honor the fallen officers today. 20,000 people were expected to attend the memorial packing the Tacoma Dome, a large number of which are fellow police officers from around the country.
Police guilds and nonprofit organizations have donated more than $20,000 to cover the costs of the memorial service. UPS services donated 25,000 programs that were printed for the event. Local vendors offered free coffee for passerby’s and community guests attending the service. Even from where I watched the live coverage, University students at UW-Tacoma showed great respect and appreciation for today’s event.
As I left campus today in downtown Tacoma, I noticed the tight security around the Tacoma Dome. All roads a square block to the Dome were blocked and lined with dozens of police cars. I read that SWAT teams and sharpshooters had taken up positions around the Dome for extra security and protection. The FAA issued temporary flight restriction in the area only permitting police aircraft to hover the stadium area.
As I drove pass the Tacoma Dome this afternoon (which would have been the middle of the service), I knew that today’s memorial service would mark a day in history unlike any other. Today, I saw and felt more respect for anyone than maybe I ever have in my life. The community support shown for these officers left me speechless. The national and international support left me even more in awe. My only regret is that I was not there (on the streets or in the Dome) to witness it all for myself.
I can’t help but feel like I missed part of history today. The kind of history that will go next to Princess Diana (at least in my mind). I’m realizing the vanity of life without the daily appreciation and respect for those who make life possible- God and the people who choose to risk their own lives to protect and keep us safe. I believe today brought a hope, peace and unity to our community that could never be matched in the same way ever again. I know at the least, it brought a hope, peace and unity to my soul and I will never be the same.
Thank you today and every day to the countless people who risk their lives for the sake of our communities. To the officers who have fallen, but will never be forgotten.
Lord God, to families of the officers, bless them and keep them close to your heart now and always. Would a blanket of comfort and peace wrap them and warm them with faith and hope in you.