I initially wrote this blog on July 8, 2016, only a few hours after the ambush of the Dallas Area Regional Transport and Dallas Police officers. My anger was raging, and fear was burning in my throat. I wrote in haste and colored by emotions, so I decided to set aside the writing for a few days and return to it when I was calmer and more collected. Maybe even as a nation, we could begin to heal from the worst attack on police officers since 9/11. However, here is the reality: since the attack on Dallas, 12 more officers have died in the line of duty, bringing July’s line of duty deaths to 20. I am still angry; I am still afraid.
I initially wrote about Dallas, “A city is shattered.” I need to revise that to “We are a nation in crisis.” My heart is crushed for all deceased and wounded officers, for their loved ones and friends. These heroes are all my family—my blue family. The sniper ambush on the men and women of the Dallas Police and the Dallas Area Regional Transport is as Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings proclaimed, “Our worst nightmare…” I was so angry and horrified watching the news coming out of Dallas that I could not pray. For a moment, the darkness and the demons took my soul. Media coverage of line of duty deaths often takes survivors back to the time they found out they lost their officer. Since Dallas, our nation has lost officers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, California, and multiple more officers in Texas. Communities, police departments, and families across the United States have suffered their “worst nightmare” in the last few weeks.
Police survivors—the term used to describe family members and co-workers of an officer killed in the line of duty—the ones that are past the immediate trauma may have flashbacks of their officer’s death, anger and depression. Nightmares might return. The surviving families and co-workers of the recent line of duty deaths will experience devastation that defies description, often while being scrutinized by the media. Anyone that is a police survivor would do anything to take away that pain.
Several months ago, I wrote a blog post Is There a War on Police? The tragic answer, of course, is yes. Every day I balance my joy for life with the reality that one of my friends, or someone I love, could die in the service of their job. I have spent the majority of this month searching for words of healing for all police survivors, a small glimmer of hope to everyone traumatized by violence against law enforcement. I know police survivors have experienced a variety of emotions this month, predominantly grief. The only human emotion strong enough to combat trauma and grief is love. Mother Teresa is attributed to saying “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” Love your neighbors, your family, but most importantly make an effort to love someone different than you. Our small and individual acts of love will help our nation heal. Is it this simple to heal our nation in crisis? I don’t know, but we have to start somewhere, and I choose to start with love.
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