Archive for April, 2009
It’s been a while since the funeral. I haven’t been able to write about it due to a combination of being sick, working, Jackson and just general being busy.
I went to work thursday night after having woken up at 7am. I had a moderately full night but thank God I didn’t get stuck on a report. Me and my partner, Pat, went up to the locker room and doffed our uniforms of the night. The process began of changing into a fresh pair of pants, a fresh longsleeve shirt, polishing our stars, and getting our duty belts ready. Our Ike jackets were donned and our hats placed smartly.
A quick check in the mirror showed all was in order.
To avoid the projected traffic due to the rather large amount of officers that would be attending, we decided to drive to San Bruno BART and just ride the train in. I noticed while on the train the various pairs of eyes that were looking at us. I don’t know what they were thinking, it could have been anything from “Why are they dressed like that?” to “They must be going to the funeral.”
The train arrived at the Coliseum exit, and we both exited. There was a young lady exiting with us.
As we neared the stairs she turned to us and asked if we were going to the funeral. I replied that we were and she said “I’m sorry for your loss.” She then began to cry. I thanked her for her sympathy and condolences. Her reaction struck me deeply. She was a beautiful young African American woman. I make that distinction because after seeing this video that says that the African American community is occupied by an invading force of Police, and that the man who killed these four officers was standing up for the cause and was a hero in the community, it made me realize that this is not an idea held by everyone.
The idea that this was a racially motivated incident sickens my stomach and makes me angry. I myself do not know ANY officers that practice racially motivated policing. It boils down to we go after people that commit offenses…PERIOD. This idea comes from incidents that occurred decades ago, in another part of the country, when the thinking was different. There is NOTHING in our training that says certain races do certain things and that we should assume they are all criminals. What we do receive is training that allows us to be even more culturally diverse and sensitive. Every department has at least one General Order that addresses this issue.
The video also makes it a point to show that the killer was a father, a brother, a son. And what were the officers? They also had family, wives, children, friends and parents. We are all human beings that deserve to live.
Back to the post.
The walk to the Coliseum was a bit long. My flu was still in full swing. I was coughing and blowing my nose constantly.
I arrived at the parking lot outside of the entrance. It was a sea of blue. Officers from all over the country were present. All up and down the state, Reno, Las Vegas, Boston just to name a few. There were so many that it took us about 45 minutes to make our way into the Coliseum and get seating. As we passed through the interior, the screens on the wall were playing photo collages of each officer. I already had to begin holding back the tears.
The Coliseum was at almost full capacity, over 19,000 people in attendance.
Once we had our seats, OPD Chaplain, Father Jayson Landeza, gave a quick opening statement and then stepped down.
The Coliseum stood at attention immediately.
Hands whipped smartly to brows. The bagpipes began to play. An honor guard began the procession. Each fallen officer, American Flags draped over their coffins, began the slow entrance. My arm began to tire. I fought off the feeling. If they can give their life, I can give up comfort during this time where we have all gathered to honor them.
After all the coffins were brought out and placed into position, the order was given.
We took our seats. Each officer had a member of the department present that related a story about their life with the department, their experience with them, their fondest memories. Then a family member would deliver the eulogy.
I have never cried so much. I had to keep wiping away tears. I had hoped that they would not be noticed.
The statements made, were to say the least, very powerful. There was a call to action, a call for change, a call for responsible media, thanks for the members of the public that helped during those horrific moments. Applause rang out.
Then came the presentation of the flags and stars. The folding of the flags was done ceremoniously, methodically, deliberately. They were then brought to the superior officer, inspected, and presented one by one to each of the families. A second flag, with each of the fallen officers stars, was also presented with just as much ceremony.
The end of the funeral arrived. We all stood up.
Honor Guard took their positions about the caskets. Each brought out one at a time. I had no more tears to give.
Rest In Peace.
Sgt. Mark Dunakin
Ofc. John Hege
Sgt. Ervin Romans
Sgt. Daniel Sakai
An angel in the sky must leave his place of rest,
Gently tucking his wings beneath his armored vest.
For duty has called, there is much work to do.
Little did he know, these ones are dressed in blue.
Arriving on the scene, he knows just what to say:
“Follow me, fallen brothers, I’ll show you the way.
Your duties have ended, your work is now through.
Come hang your hats beside mine. I’m a cop, too.”
Eric DeRenzis ©19992 comments