THE FROG POND - Remembering

(05/22/2002)

By Suzanne Mazer Stewart

Everyone, I'm sure, is aware that Memorial Day is fast approaching. I, for one, am grateful that our nation has set aside a day for remembering our honored dead. Much will be said and done about our military heroes, those fallen defenders of our nation's freedoms and way of life. I believe that it is only right and just to honor those brave souls.

Not so many of you, however, will know that May is National Police Officers' Memorial Month. Again, I am grateful that our country has chosen to set aside this time for paying tribute to those fallen heroes who also paid the ultimate price for their fellow Americans. I am disappointed, though, that this receives so very little notice.

As the wife of a police officer, I try to keep track of mention of law enforcement in the news. So far this year, I've seen a cartoon (The Family Circus) and one editorial dedicated to National Police Officers' Memorial Month. I would have thought, and expected to see, in the wake of 9/11, that there would be more attention given to the occasion.

Don't get me wrong. I believe our military veterans deserve all the honor and glory they can get. My father was a Viet Nam veteran and received precious little acknowledgment for his years of service, including 2 years of combat. Even his own government acted for a time as though they wished he and his comrades would just go away. So maybe that's why I feel so strongly about this issue.

Our military does a job nearly unequaled in the world. Not only do they protect the "homeland," but also protect the rights and freedoms of those in other countries, as well. Our police officers do nothing less than phenomenal in their own right. They are entrusted with the welfare and safety of all our 275 million citizens. We can all sleep better at night because of their selfless service. We owe the fact that we can walk down most of our streets without worry of attack or injury. They stand alone against those who would act to us harm, to take our property or our lives.

Yes, crime does happen. Often, people complain that the police don't do enough. What most don't realize is that the deck is actually stacked against them. New York City, the nation's leader in law enforcement, only has 30,000 or so uniformed officers to serve it's 7 million citizens. Some laws actually hamper the police in the performance of their duties. Many law-abiding citizens, not to mention the criminal element, have little or no respect for their law enforcement officials. And the very governments that they uphold pay them, on average, very poorly. Even New York City's finest patrolman only earns around $40,000 a year.

Now, some of you out there are close to apoplectic by now, I'm sure, with my going on about the hardships and hindrances our police officers face. Let me ask you some questions: How much would you be willing to make to put your life on the line every time you went to work? How often could you stand by and be verbally assaulted and not be able to do anything about it? How many times would you be content to be physically assaulted before you were ready to quit? How many times could you walk out your front door to go to work knowing in the back of your mind you may never walk back in, before you just didn't go out to work anymore? That's reality, that's Life, for a police officer.

I say let's remember them all, dead and living. Let's give them all a moment of our thoughts, a prayer for their safety, a "thank you" for what they've done and continue to do. It is, literally, the least we can do to honor those to whom we owe so much.

You may contact Suzanne at
MSZFROGGIE@aol.com


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