A hero’s Welcome


I was just reading posts over at Blackfive. I was reading one post in particular, “Connecticut State Troopers Escort Troops Heading to Afghanistan.” One of the Connecticut State Troopers is in the 102nd of the National Guard unit. The unit was activated and deployed to Afghanistan. It seems the State troopers in Connecticut know how to honor their troops. They gave their troops a royal escort, a state police escort from their Armory to the New York State line as the troops’ buses made their way out on the first leg of their deployment in Afghanistan.

It was exhilarating but bittersweet as it reminded me of another police escort. When Mike was brought back to Dover we all wanted to go meet the plane. We didn’t want him to make the journey home alone. The Navy said we couldn’t go. So The Chesterfield County Police Department, where Mike was an officer when he was activated, picked a small town, Ashland, Virginia, just north of Richmond. The officers and as many family members as possible met the white hearse and lone military vehicle at a gas station there. We escorted Mike the rest of the way home to the funeral home.

We were told we could not open the coffin. But his Widow, Mom, and Grandma refused to believe it was Mike until they saw him. They viewed him privately with the Funeral Home Director. Afterwards they decided to have an open casket. Then they had his military uniform removed and his Police Uniform was put on him. As he lay there in his coffin, an honor guard of police officers stayed at Mike’s side day and night until the Military honor guard arrived. Then they both shared that vigil. He was never alone!

The local media would only have had a small article but I called them. Mike was the only active Chesterfield County Police Officer ever activated and then killed while on the force in the department’s history. On the day of the funeral, Officers from all three localities where he had once worked on their force, gave him a police escort in their cruisers to the Church for the funeral and then escorted him to the cemetery to be put to rest. As we entered the cemetery I saw that the local Fire Department had hung a huge American Flag across the entrance. Over 1,000 police officers, fireman, family, and friends attended his service from as far away as California.

As long as I live, I will never forget the honor they showed Mike and the kindness they showed his family that. They made the pain feel shared. Their love and respect helped us be strong. I felt like we were not suffering our loss alone.

I cannot begin to express enough the importance of this type of support to the families of those who are lost. But not just those departed, also those who are injured and those fortunate enough to come home physically healthy. Their wounds run deeper.

All you wonderful supporters like Smash, Blackfive, A Mom in America, Yankee Mom, ~K, Mudville Gazette, and many more that I can’t even remember right now because it makes me so emotional as I write it here that I can’t think, thank you. I especially thank those of you who are soldiers and soldiers’ loved ones because with all you have to do you willingly add to your burdens to help others. You are the backbone of this country. You make us all proud.

For those of us who have lost loved ones, you make us feel not so all alone. That our loved one mattered to someone besides ourselves. That our pain and loss was not in vain! A priceless gift!!

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~ by devildog6771 on January 24, 2006.

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