Incredible Virtues

Incredible Virtues

On September 12, 2001, we collectively vowed as a nation to take into account all that happened the previous day. “We will never forget,” read signs from coast to coast. FDNY and NYPD ball caps sold in record numbers. Thirteen years later I want to make good on that promise. May we remember the companionship lost, the laughs now restricted to our memories, and the human touch that was severed on one of the darkest days in American history.

While we solemnly pay tribute to those lost, may we also cherish the living. I wish to honor all marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen, and coast guardsmen, but especially those who join the civilian law enforcement community after completing their military tour of duty.

Regardless of what our tough exterior communicates, we are people who love humanity. The nature of our work is a testament to this love. We respond to aid those in need when others freeze. We run to trouble when most run from it. Yes, indeed, the law enforcement community in general exercises what is called the greatest gift; love. “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love,” wrote Paul the Apostle in a deeply moving letter to those he cherished in Corinth.

Most people remember where they were on September 11, 2001. I was a patrol lieutenant serving as watch commander on swing shift in Orange County, California. I worked September 10, 2001 and arrived home at 2:30 a.m. on September 11. I was jolted by the news that greeted me when I awoke later that morning. I remained glued to the television all day.

One year later the Fountain Valley High School planned an assembly to commemorate the first anniversary of 9/11. I was honored when our chief offered my services to speak when the school asked for a representative from the police department. Trying to introduce meaning into the event from my perspective, I wrote a poem to share. It expressed what I believed then, and still believe today.

Of 2977 people who lost their life that day, 23 were from the New York Police Department, 37 from the Port Authority Police Department, 343 from the New York Fire Department, and 125 from the Pentagon. Countless others received long term emotional and physical trauma resulting from the day that will be forever etched in our memory.

The poem that follows is a tribute to the police officers and firefighters who valiantly served the citizens of New York, in both life and death, on that tragic day. They are words of respect for heroes from United Airlines Flight 93 who forced the plane to the ground near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, undoubtedly saving many other lives in the process. They are thoughts to pay homage to the brave servants at the Pentagon, to all others who perished on September 11, 2001, and to those fighting the war on terror since that time.

Freedom comes with a price tag! Throughout history it has been purchased with an irreplaceable commodity, the blood of those willing to sacrifice their lives for the benefit of others. We do it because it’s at the core of our being. What an incredible virtue!

“Incredible Virtues”

Freedom wasn’t free

The price was sweat and blood

Freedom wasn’t free

Soldiers wounded in the mud

“Declaring Independence”

We shouted to the world

We sewed our stars and stripes

‘Old Glory’ was unfurled 

Our nation has been growing

For a couple hundred years

We’ve had more highs than lows

More smiles than the tears

Then evil hit our shores

Twelve months ago today

We chose no other option

But to respond the American way

We responded with our courage

With allegiance and our might

We responded with our sympathy

With fury and our fight

On a single dollar bill

The bald eagle sits in place

With the olive branch of peace

And the arrows of war in case

9/11 shook our world

Even on the Far West Coast

Note to other evildoers

We’ll defend what we love most

What we love most in life

Includes family and our friends

Two things that they stole from us

But it’s not the bitter end

We have three more they cannot have

Faith, hope, and love within

And since they are secure in us

Liberty’s torch will never dim

—Jim McNeff

jimmcneff

Jim is the author of The Spirit behind Badge 145. He worked in military and civilian law enforcement for thirty-one years. While in the USAF he flew as a crewmember aboard the National Emergency Airborne Command Post—a presidential support detail. Following his military service, he served for twenty-seven years with the Fountain Valley Police Department in Orange County, California where he retired as a lieutenant. During his career in law enforcement, he worked with, supervised, or managed every element of the organization. He holds a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from Southwest University and graduated from the prestigious Sherman Block Supervisory Leadership Institute as well as the IACP course, Leadership in Police Organizations. Jim is married and has three adult children and three grandchildren. You can contact him at jrmcneff@gmail.com or view his website www.jimmcneff.com which is geared toward helping officers.

– See more at: http://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/2014/09/11/incredible-virtues/#sthash.Hq21INMu.dpuf

Incredible Virtues

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