Last week our city lost another officer in the line of duty. Feels like this has been happening more frequently these past few years, and my heart breaks every time. These men and women put their lives on the line every day to protect our city, and all too often they don’t get the thanks and respect they deserve and have earned. Personally, I’ve always had a great respect for the men and women who serve our community. I want to instill that respect in my children, and it’s even more important to me since we have quite a few friends and family members who serve as officers in our city.
Our home is less than 1/2 mile from a main freeway, as well as the cemetery where most of our city’s officers are buried. Any time an officer is lost in the line of duty the service is televised, followed by a huge procession of public service vehicles to the cemetery. Because the cemetery is so close to our home the procession goes right by our neighborhood. Whenever we know this is happening, we’ve made it a point to go to the freeway overpass and watch the procession as it goes by, paying our respect to the family of the fallen officer as well as those in the procession who serve us daily.
This past Monday was the funeral for Officer John Hobbs, an officer of 21-years. I found out on Sunday that it would be the next day and had planned to go, but we got so caught up in school I forgot. Thankfully I saw our neighbor’s post on FB saying she was at the overpass waiting for the procession to come by, and I was reminded we needed to head over there as well. I rounded up the kids as quick as I could and we drove right over. She and her family had brought a flag, purchased red, white and blue balloons, and written signs that they hung on the overpass which read, “Thank You, God Bless You”.
There were other people there with flags; The turnout of people to pay their respects was overwhelming. The overpass we were on was filled with people. Being there to pay our respects was humbling enough, but standing next to those signs as the procession came by, waving and watching my kids wave to the officers, having officers wave back, turn on their sirens or flash their headlights at us in response was even more humbling. I was honored to be there to offer my support and show my thankfulness to those officers.
The tears continued as the hearse passed by and memories flooded my mind of the last time I stood on that overpass next to my brother- also an officer- and watched him stand at attention and salute the hearse as it drove by. More tears as multiple limousines carrying his family and friends followed, thinking of his wife and 3 children- the same age as my oldest 3- knowing they’d never see their hero again.
Car after car after car of officers followed- officers from all over our state- and then fire trucks from departments all over the state. The procession was over 11 miles long, and we stood there and watched and waved the entire time.
I don’t think we can ever do enough to show our thankfulness, but I was glad to do what little bit I could. I pray never to have to be on the other end of this, riding in one of the cars behind the hearse of one of my loved ones watching the community pay their respects, but know I’d be thankful to see the support of our community.
For a small look into what the family of Officer Hobbs and fellow officers were met with by the community, take a look at this video (we are at 2:50 to the left of the ‘Thank You’ sign; this video must have been earlier in the procession, because by the time the hearse drove by the bridge was elbow to elbow).