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November 29, 2019

Thankful For Fathers Who Wear Badges

Guest Columnist

Seth Eisenberg

“School is closed” was the first thing I heard while waking up. I was about 9, it was snowing like crazy and around 15 degrees outside. I remember it was still dark and the wind was howling so loud it sounded like a pack of wolves’ right outside my window. There was about 7 inches of snow outside, and it was still coming down hard.

I heard my Dad’s voice say: “Might get 12 more inches before it’s all over, roads are horrible and the winds are gusting to about 35 miles an hour. Don’t go out if you don’t have to.” I stopped paying attention as my mind drifted to thoughts of snowmen and sledding.  Then I heard it. In the hallway, outside my bedroom, the sound of heavy boots on the floor going past my door to the kitchen. The sound of a heavy coat zipper being pulled up, but all of it done with a sort of purposeful slowness so as not to wake anyone.

I heard the front door opening, artic like air immediately filled the house. The wind grew louder for a moment and just as fast, it was silent again as the door was pulled shut.

I could see out the window it was starting to get light, the snowflakes were as big as plates.  They fell to the ground piling up more and more. Only the wind could be heard, as it whipped the trees back and forth, howling like a caged animal.  Then something louder masked the wind. An engine roared to life, I’ve heard it before. It was a motorcycle, deep and loud as it fired up, so deep I swear I could feel it in my stomach.

The wind and snow responded to the sound of the engine as if it was a challenge.  It howled louder as the gusts blew the snow completely horizontal.

By now the engine was shifted into gear and it started to move up the road slowly as my father headed out on his motorcycle, off to work. My father was a police officer, a motorman.

I remember that morning and the hundreds others like it, or worse, when I read people on line calling police officers “pigs”.  I remember the worry when they write they would have no problem shooting any officer, or the cheering when videos of officers being attacked are posted.

I remember my mom watching the news on television when something about a police officer involved shooting would come up, how she should would try to hide the fear and concern. Or the stories my father told me, when I was older, about people dying in his arms at accident scenes. Telling me about having to inform strangers that one of their family members would not be coming home.

He told me about the countless criminals that would assault them with fists, knives or whatever else they could get their hands on. He told me about officers being spit on, insulted or treated less than human, simply because they wore a badge.

He told me about the thankful people whose lives he and his fellow officers saved over the years, about how they were grateful. He told me about how they appreciated their caring but it was neither required nor expected.

Police officers don’t put on a badge to become “famous” or be a “hero”. They just wanted to do their job and make it home at the end of their shift.

I will never understand the people I see too frequently bashing the police.  I do understand this, I’m thankful for my father, his friends and all the other officers out there behind the badge.

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