In the LAPD, Code 7 is a synonym for lunch break or an opportunity to eat. Code 7 is a time to relax, joke, and share thoughts with your fellow officers. Here is what's on my mind right now ...
Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about respecting our flag and our country. I learned at an early age that the United States of America was the best country in the world and that other nations looked up to us and that many people living in other countries wanted to come live in America and experience the “American Dream.”
I learned those lessons from my parents who lived through the Great Depression. My mother told me of the hard life she’d lived on a farm. She shared a single nightgown with her sister—each girl wearing the garment on alternate nights. I learned from the example of my father who left Texas to work two jobs in California to work two jobs (and sometimes three) in order to support his family. My parents—true survivors of the depression—were frugal, assuring we always had enough to eat and a roof over our head.
What my parents knew, and instilled in all three kids, was that if we wanted something badly enough, we had to work for it. We also learned to accept personal responsibility for our actions and ourselves. We respected our parents, our elders, and those who were authority figures…teachers, police officers, nurses, librarians, lifeguards, store managers, etc.
As our country grew from the postwar era and into the fabulous 50’s, the American Dream was alive and well, and Americans stood tall and were proud of their country. Remember, when at the end of a broadcast day, the television stations played our national anthem and showed the American flag waving in the breeze?
In elementary school, one of the first things we memorized alongside out ABC’s was to say the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag. I always thought of the pledge and the flag together. Only when I was a little older did I realize I wasn’t only pledging to the flag, I was pledging to everything it stood for—that flag stood for my country, the United States America. It is the land of promise, where you can be anything you want to be as long as you were willing to work for it.
Somehow, somewhere in America it became uncool to love this great country. At some point, children were told, and in some instances encouraged not to pledge their allegiance to their country. Many schools just stopped saying the pledge altogether. I have to wonder if there is some connection to dropping the Pledge of Allegiance from school curriculum and the fact our country is so divided. We’ve become a nation of Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Italians, gays, transgenders, handicapped, affluent, homeless, middle class, Republicans, Democrats, white collar, blue collar, pro-gun, anti-gun—I could go on and on, the labels are endless. But in reality we are Americans. We may be those other thing as well, but first, we are Americans.
Since childhood, the only time I’ve seen our country totally united was immediately after September 11, 2001. Do you remember? Do you remember when people came together helping one another, comforting one another for those who were lost and devastated? Do you remember when many people drove around with American flags proudly waving from their vehicles? Do you remember people coming together and singing our National Anthem and God Bless America together, hand in hand?
We vowed we’d never forget…and yet, we did.
One cold morning, I turned on the local news, and to my surprise, the television station KBOI 2 in Boise, Idaho showed children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. I’m not sure if this is a daily occurrence at the news station, but it happens often enough I’ve seen it many times. The simple act of watching young people pledge allegiance to their flag and their country gives me hope—hope that patriotism is not dead—that our country will turn around and become one nation again, and it won’t take thousands of dead Americans to bring us together.
Here’s a link to a video of Idaho school children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. I’m sure many of you can related to your own childhood.
I’m also sharing a link to a video telling the story of our national anthem. The video is approximately twelve minutes long, but a great history lesson. I hope you’ll take the time to watch.
Until next time, remain vigilant
Recent events highlighted police officers, firefighters, military personnel, doctors, nurses, and our citizens at their finest. Perhaps some of those citizens are now thinking maybe they’d like to be a police officer. I wrote this piece about twelve years ago and made minor changes.
Police work is a calling. I wanted to be a police officer from the time I was about eleven. I watched Jack Webb, and Harry Morgan protect the city of LA in the Dragnet television show, and I was hooked.
The people who come to the job because they’ve “always wanted to be a cop,” or because they come from a long line of cops, make the best police officers. Of course, that’s my personal opinion, but I’m not the only cop who thinks this is a true statement. In order to be a good cop, you have to want to help people. You have to have compassion and understanding. You have to have an ocean of patience. You need to have the fortitude to go where most people don’t want to go and do what most people can’t or don’t want to do. You have to be willing to sometimes sacrifice time with your family for the betterment of society – and that includes your anniversaries, vacation, and Christmas. You have to see, hear or smell things no decent human being wants to see, hear or smell. You must be prepared to give your life to help or protect a stranger.
You have to deal with the stress of doing your job and knowing there is always someone who is watching, maybe filming, to see if you falter or fail. You have to be willing to take a load of crap from bad guys, citizens, the media and sometimes even your co-workers. But a good cop does all these things and more. They do it seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. They do it because they want to make a difference, and they want to help.
They do it because they can’t imagine doing anything else. In fact, I think almost every cop I’ve ever worked with has said something like: “When I first started the job, I was having so much fun, I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to do it! I was sad when I had to take a day off.” That unbridled enthusiasm eventually subsides, but the initial craving to do the best you can, to be the best you can, doesn’t die. Your desire to serve keeps you coming back to work day after day, year after year. Those are the officers who have the zest for the job. Those are the officers who are heroes in times of chaos and crisis. They are the men and women who proudly wear their badge and run toward danger when others are running away. God bless our police officers, other first responders, and our citizens…God bless America.
Until next time…remain vigilant,
When I attended Thrillerfest this past July, one of the things I wanted to make sure I did was to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. I took the subway down to south Manhattan. After walking a few blocks, I was there. I wasn't exactly sure what I was looking for because I hadn't seen any pictures of the actual memorial. But it didn't take me long to see a crowd standing in the formation of a square looking downward. I approached the gathering and found an open spot. I was filled with a sense of loss because what I was looking at was a large concrete square hole with water cascading down the sides. The water collected in a pool that then flowed toward the center and into a smaller dark square hole and out of sight.
I can't describe to you the feelings I felt gazing into the north tower memorial. Somber, subdued, and melancholy, aren’t quite right, but they’ll have to do. But what drove the point home about how many people were lost that day was that the outside of the memorial was framed with the names of everyone lost in that building. I made a point to walk around the entirety of the north tower memorial so I could absorb the impact of just how many people died there. I did the same at the south tower memorial. At both locations, I noticed that some of the names had small white roses inserted into the cut out of the person's name. I later learned that those white roses, at least for some, represented that person's birthday. However on the day that I attended there were some names that had small orange roses inserted into the name as well. I don't know the significance of the orange roses, other than the fact someone who loved that person took the time to come and leave the floral memory.
Additionally, there was a small flower arrangement from American Airlines and British Airways. I wasn't sure of the significance of that display either, but it showed me that for some reason, American Airlines had reached out on that day and acknowledged the horrible event of September 11, 2001.
Filled with a sense of sorrow and the loss our country experienced that fateful day, I wanted to know more. I found my way to the 9/11 Museum. My first impression was that it’s a beautiful building. I hadn't seen one exhibit yet, but the building and materials used in its construction gave me a sense that America wanted the best to honor her dead. I opted to explore the museum by myself, but I think if I were to go again I would take a tour. Nonetheless, even by going on my own, I was satisfied that I’d sensed of the enormity of the event that had occurred.
The first thing I remember seeing was a huge wall with, what looked like, gigantic bolts protruding from it. This wall was part of the Foundation Hall, and the wall I was looking at was part of the original World Trade Center that withstood the devastation of 9/11.
Also in the Foundation Hall is the final column removed from the WTC ruins. The last column stands 36 feet high and is covered with memorial inscriptions left by first responders.
I can't relate to you everything that I saw and felt. But my breath was taken away when I came upon the Memorial Portrait Wall. Out of respect for those who died, photos are not allowed in or near the port Memorial Portrait Wall. But to see the faces of the 2983 victims of the attack in one place is almost overwhelming. And the enormity of the waste of life and America's loss brought tears to my eyes.
I think every American should put a visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum on their list of “must see” items. I feel lucky I was able to see it in person. The 9/11 Memorial Foundation has made it possible for millions of people to see, and hopefully feel, the museum and memorial in their own way. Here’s a link to the 9/11 Memorial website where you can take a virtual tour. I encourage you to take a look and remember.
God bless America!
Until next time,
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