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Born To Serve

When I was a new deputy, I attended far too many funerals of fallen police officers. Both women and men who died in the line of duty fulfilling their sworn commitment to protect and to serve those who could not protect themselves. To some who look at police officers as just doing a "job" they don't get it. Like our military service men and women, we put on the uniform because we are called to it. God pressed into our hearts a desire to put ourselves in harms way, even to the point of dying, so that we could protect the vulnerable and innocent.

I loved being a police officer. For 25 years I was proud of who I was. The uniform didn't define who I was but it refined who I was. When I was injured on the job and forced into retirement, I never got a going away party. No one congratulated me on my many years of service. I never received a metal, or even a handshake. My wall plaque was mailed to me with the wrong dates. No pomp and circumstance, just a chapter closing on a huge part of my life. I was born to serve, and I no longer was able to do what I was born to do, or so I thought.

Recently, my niece retired after 21 years with the Navy. She spoke to a team of my therapists about what it is to dedicate your life to service, and how the process of retirement is a bitter sweet undertaking. Like me, she received no retirement celebration. She tearfully read THE WATCH as she poured her heart out in remembrance of her own End Of Watch;

The Watch

For 20 years this sailor has stood the watch

while some of us were in our bunks at night.

This sailor stood the watch.

While some of us were in school learning our trade,

This shipmate stood the watch.

Yes. Even before some of us were Born into this world this shipmate stood the watch. In those years when the storm clouds of war were seen brewing on the horizon of history.

This shipmate stood the watch.

Many times he would cast an eye ashore and see his family standing there, needing his guidance and help, needing that hand to hold during those hard times.

But he still stood the watch.

He stood the watch for 20 years. He said the watch so that we, our families, and our fellow countrymen could sleep soundly in safety; each and every night knowing that

a sailor stood the watch.

Today we are here to say, ‘Shipmate… The watch stands relieved. Relieved by those you have trained, guided, and lead. Shipmate you stand relieved. We have the watch.”

“Boatswain. Standby to pipe the side… Shipmate’s going ashore.”

For every soldier, sailer, marine, airman, grunt, and boot, to every blue blood, green and tan, and black-and-white and fire engine red rider, I stand at attention and salute your efforts, your dedication, and your commitment to serve. I pray you find new and meaningful ways to continue to serve as this is why you were born.

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