My older son graduated from the police academy after enduring six months of intense stress, pressure, and physical strain. He almost quit halfway through the program and wondered if he was doing the right thing. He missed his mother and felt that since she was not here anymore, he didn’t have a reason to complete this training. I encouraged him to finish and do his best but that’s easy for someone who doesn’t have to wake up at 4am and working until midnight on a daily basis in the hopes of minimizing mistakes (only get two chances to pass any test with the physical and emotional exhaustion to boot).
Needless to say, I was honored when my son asked that we (my current wife and other son), along with my brother and my son’s soon-to-be fiance, share the platform with him as his badge was to be pinned by my brother (current peace officer). My brother had a difficult time pinning the badge as my son’s uniform was brand new. I’m sure he felt the pressure as the audience patiently waited for the pinning to get done (note: other family members had similar difficulties pinning their graduates as well).
Finally…the pin poked through the brand new police shirt and everyone clapped! My brother felt an overwhelming sense of relief as his job was completed even though it took longer than expected. Posing for the customary pictures with my son’s new police chief, we quietly vacated the stage for the next recruit to be honored. It was a proud moment for all of us!
The festivities after the ceremony was memorable as many of my son’s college friends attended to congratulate him along with many family and close friends who sacrificed their time to attend this special ceremony. What an evening it was! Surrounded by public safety personnel of various types including some from other states, we were ushered into this new family of peace officers this wonderful night. The keynote speaker stated it correctly – it really is the few who are in the news or choose to disrupt the public that are in the minority! The majority of people believe in and support our public safety officers for without them, chaos would be the alternative and that would be a disaster beyond measure!
Interestingly, a few years earlier, my son carried a picture of his mother (my late wife) when he graduated from college. It was in a picture frame and he held it for all to see. He explained that he wanted mom to share in his triumphant moment of graduating from college. I had wondered if, and how, he would repeat this same honor of his mother at such a sacred ceremony for the police academy graduation. There was much more structure compared to a college graduation. Obeying orders in a military fashion was the dominant rule throughout the night. There were family hugs and pictures taken but only at the time of the pinning – all other times, it was meant for the aura of a future peace officer. Tonight, my son needed to simply have his mother’s memory in his heart only.
The very next morning, he confessed that the reason why my brother, had such a difficult time pinning his badge was that my son placed a picture of his mother in his shirt pocket above his heart – yes, the very location in which the first pin penetration needed to occur. He forgot to mention this and couldn’t whisper it to his uncle but was thankful that my brother moved to another spot on the shirt to complete the task.
I believe that, even in death, my dear wife guarded her son’s heart through his inadvertent placement of a simple picture at just the right location.
Yes, even from Heaven, mom was proud and protective of her baby boy growing into a young man today!
To Protect and Serve!!!