Honoring Spouses and Children
The famous quote is often spoken when an officer loses their life in the line of duty; “All give some, but some give all.” Over the last many years I have had the unfortunate opportunity to attend the funerals of many officers who have died in the line of duty.
As offic ers , we stand at att enti on in th e honor processional as the casket passes from the meeting place to the vehicles. We stand to salute those who have lost their lives protecting all of us. One of the most heartbreaking sights is watching the officer’s spouse as they walk by, usually with child in hand, mourning for their loved one. Recently, Mrs. Johnson and her son walked out of the Maverik Center hand in hand as they followed behind Sgt. Derek Johnson. We witnessed the same scene over a year ago when Kristi Beesley walked out of Layton High school with her three sons in hand.
These families, along with many others, continue to “give all” every single day.
I sometimes think we forget the many sacrifices made on the home front in order to support a spouse who wears the uniform. Law enforcement is a very demanding career and can take a huge toll on the family. The shift work, late nights, weekend activities, and constant call-outs can wreak havoc on a family schedule. On top of the crazy work schedule, an officer must usually work two or three jobs to support the family. So not only are they frequently gone for their primary job, but they often have to leave home to work an overtime shift or second or third job.
The work environment of the officer is not always pleasant. The activities they are engaged in can be extremely stressful. The scenes of the job leave lasting impressions and images in their minds that are impossible to erase. Over the years the officer’s personality may change as they observe their surroundings in a more cynical way. Many times an officer returns home emotionally and physically drained. This also places more stress on the spouse, as I am sure there is a long list of tasks at home that must be accomplished as well. The spouse and children of an officer should be praised for all they put up with. They are usually the ones holding everything together in the family and making sacrifice after sacrifice to ensure that the “ball doesn’t get dropped”. They are the ones running the car pools to make sure every child gets to the ball game. They are at the school events alone in the stands cheering on the kids. They are paying the bills and making sure the chaos the officer creates gets back in order. Many times they are putting their needs and wants on hold in order to support their officer. I know they must explain to their children why mom or dad was unable to make the special events because work ran late. What is most amazing is that the spouse and children do this with a smile on their face, because they know they are part of something very special, protecting others and saving lives.
I believe the hardest part of their world is knowing each day their loved one leaves the home to put their life on the line for others. The stress and anxiety they must feel has to be overwhelming. They never know if they will have the knock on the door with the terrible news that their loved one “gave all”. They know they may have to raise their families alone. Knowing this, these brave spouses still allow their officers to go out the door every day and sacrifice a little bit of their lives. I know we honor those fallen officers as we absolutely should. We honor all those who serve every day, year after year and sacrifice a small portion of their sanity, as we should. We seldom remember or honor the spouses and children of the officers. I think if we really look deep, we will find that the family’s sacrifice is just as great, if not greater than the officer’s sacrifice. I believe that in the house of every Police Officer, County Deputy, or State Trooper there is a hero who holds all things together and their title is Spouse.