Tomorrow, May 15, is National Peace Officers Memorial Day, a day dedicated to remembering the more than 18,600 law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty in the United States (133 killed in 2008 alone)--and to showing our appreciation to the hundreds of thousands of law enforcement professionals whose job it is to protect Americans from crime, harm, and yes, from ourselves. Flags across our nation will be at flown at half staff Friday, which is the culmination of National Police Week, which this year is May 10-16.
Many of you know that my son is a police officer. Most of you don't know that he is now also a Deputy U.S. Marshal. Before Officer Owen went into this line of work I had no idea how often men and women in law enforcement put themselves into harm's way simply doing their jobs. They don't have to; it's just part of the work, and they do it because they believe in their mission. It's one thing watching an episode of "CSI" or "Hill Street Blues" when the cops are going after the bad guys. It's entirely another thing when you're hearing a story first-hand about what it was like responding to a domestic violence call....or what it was like trying to comfort a small child whose parents you've just busted for running a meth lab at home....or of having to keep it together when you had to go to the home of a fallen colleague to inform his wife that her husband had been murdered. I have to admit that every time my phone rings after midnight my heart skips several beats--but I also admit that I am incredibly proud and grateful that my boy chooses to put his life on the line every day to protect people who, like me, have no idea of what dangers can be lurking "out there."
When you see a flag at half mast tomorrow, I hope you'll take a second to reflect on its significance--and if you see a law enforcement professional, even if you can't thank them in person, send a good thought or two their way. And on behalf of the 35,000 men and women that make up the Southwest Airlines Family--thank you, Officers. Be safe....and take care.