Today is a special day – National First Responders Day. Thank you to all the first responders out there who are working hard each day to keep us and our communities safe.
Jimmy Hatch is giving a speech today at a memorial for a first responder. We wanted to share it with you.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I am a product of good policing. In the summer of 2010, after being wounded in gunfight during a mission attempting to save an America hostage,
I was sad, suicidal, without hope, and had a pistol in my mouth.
My wife called 911. I remember thinking to myself that I hoped that these officers would come to my home and put me and everyone else out of the misery I had caused.
Me being that misery.
I did not think for a second about how unfair that would be for those officers. I didn’t consider how it would hurt my wife. I was mentally ill, and I did not believe that I had anything to offer. Additionally, I didn’t think I had anything good to offer anyone in the future because I lacked hope. That is called ‘despair’.
Despair is dangerous.
The officers who came to my home were not who I’d hoped would greet me.
They were kind.
I was looking for a fight. They were not.
I think y’all have a special gift with that ‘verbal Judo’ thingy.
They came to my house and treated me with a great deal of respect and care.
Toni Morrison once said, ‘people will probably not remember what you did for them, but they will remember how you made them feel’.
Today, I stand in front of you and testify that those officers made me feel like they cared.
That is a unique and very significant gift that those officers gave me.
‘Never underestimate your ability to affect the trajectory of another human’s life, especially in their most difficult moments.’
After the Officers who came to my home turned me over to mental health professionals, I went on a long journey through the psychiatric care arena.
People there helped me just like those officers, people that didn’t know who I was or where I came from; they only knew that I was a human being, and I was suffering, and I needed some help.
They were in the business of doing that very thing.
The Officers who came to my house on my worst night, put me in front of you. They shaped my trajectory.
Today were are here to remember and, more importantly, honor the law enforcement officers who gave their last full measure for us.
They showed up to work like every other day and did what we as community asked them to do.
In doing so, they willingly put themselves in harm’s way, and they perished for us.
Let me repeat, they did this for us.
College introducted me to these things called ‘Epic Poems’.
Epic Poems are like a novel written in verse, like a poem. They are amazing.
Some of the epic poems I read last year are the Iliad, the Odyssea, and The Aeneid.
As I read through them, I realized that we are all authors of our own poem.
Our lives are epic poems, and some of those poems are short, sometimes for tragic reasons, and some of those poems are long.
Some aren’t so epic. Some are amazingly epic.
Regardless, we are all writing ours – all the time.
When I think about Officer Thyne’s poem, I am amazed at how much selflessness she packed into that brief life of hers.
She served in the US Navy; she volunteered again to help her community by becoming a police officer. From what I am told, she was kind and generous and loved to smile.
And that leaves us to ask ourselves, should we be sad that we didn’t get the poem we wanted or needed from her.
My answer is a resounding ‘no’.
We should be grateful that we were exposed to it.
See, Officer Thyne was similar to the Officers who showed up at my house on arguably my worst night.
She wanted to help people, and she did. She didn’t just talk about it; she did it.
Her life ended while she was doing that very thing.
And that is why, in my opinion, the best way to honor her and what she stood for is to work extremely hard at our own poems by using her as an example. We have an opportunity that she and other officers, military members, and first responders have given us and one they don’t have for themselves.
We have an opportunity to write a longer poem. Maybe not as epic as the poems of the fallen, but much longer and with more opportunity.
To honor the fallen, to honor Katie Thyne, live your life as full as you can. Write the most epic poem you can with the gift she gave us.
While writing your poem, remember:
Never underestimate your ability to affect the trajectory of another human’s life, especially at their most difficult moments.
Honor those who paid the ultimate price for our way of life by living an epic one.
Don’t waste their efforts.