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The Peacekeepers and the Role They Play In Our Lives

November 26, 2014

Just outside of my office is a memorial to the law enforcement officers who have sacrificed their life to protect us. Inscribed on the walls of the memorial is a scripture that means a great deal me, and others in the law enforcement profession, as it defines our true purpose and makes our profession not just a vocation but a calling.

The scripture is found in the Book of Matthew (Chapter 5, verse 9) “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” Who are these peacemakers you might ask? Well they are the ones who are willing to step into harm’s way to ensure that our laws are upheld and justice prevails. They are the ones who willingly run into an emergency situation, not away from one. They are the ones who are willing to risk their own life to save us. Simply put, they are our law enforcement officers and they all share a common duty of keeping the peace in our society.     

Currently, there are 350 names of fallen heroes inscribed on the memorial wall, and in May of each year the Sheriffs in our state gather to add the names of those who died in the line of duty in the previous year.  And while the ceremony is always dignified and beautiful, it always leaves me with a sense of profound loss and sadness.   

This afternoon, I had the sad duty of attending the funeral of one of these officers who was killed in the line of duty in Leon County. I am told the deputy was ambushed and killed by a gunman who held anti-government views. This criminal intentionally set a house in his neighborhood on fire and then waited for first responders to arrive. When they did he began shooting at them. In the barrage of gunfire, one deputy was killed and another was seriously injured. Eventually, the officers were able to kill the suspect. It is now clear the action of the officers saved the lives of many others that day.  

At first, the community was stunned and in disbelief as nothing like this had happen before, but as reality set in, the community came together via a candlelight vigil and later the funeral. The outpouring of support from the local community for the family has been amazing. Despite very poor weather, hundreds of officers from agencies all across the state were present to pay their respects, and sheriffs from 15 jurisdictions as well as the governor and attorney general and other dignitaries attended the ceremony in the packed church.  

As I listened to the music and words of the minister, I realized tragedies like this one have the power to pull us together. They can cause us to focus on what is really important in life and add greater meaning to the life we live. They can somehow enhance the significance of our families, friends, co-workers, homes, communities and our nation. These ceremonies also underscore the dangerous work that we have asked our peacekeepers to perform. A major part of their job is to protect us from those who would intentionally do us harm.       

We live in a great country. A country that affords us rights as citizens that others can only imagine. But these rights and privileges are not free – they come at a high cost. Over the years, generations of patriots and peacekeepers have laid down their life in order that we could enjoy the freedoms we have today.  

So this Thanksgiving, as you gather with your family and friends, I hope you will reflect on the many blessings that we have been given as citizens of this nation, and I also hope you will take the time to give thanks for our peacekeepers and the work they do every day to keep us safe here and abroad.

May God bless and keep you.