Last year on this date, I was still recuperating from my trip to Tulsa for the US National All Arabian Horse Show when the news came across the airways that four police officers had been ambushed and murdered in my community. I was so exhausted from my trip, I didn't think much could phase me but the news of this terrible tragedy knocked me to my knees.
My entire community and the whole Pacific Northwest seemed to be right there with me. People across the nation were reeling as well. No one could fathom such an event happening yet there it was right there, smack dab in front of us, for all the world to see.
At the Forsa Coffee Company in Lakewood four officers getting coffee at the beginning of their shift were maliciously gunned down by a career criminal. Fast thinking baristas fleeing for their lives had enough sense to notice the white pickup truck that led to the perpetrator of this crime and his accomplice.
Broadcast across the world the memorial service for these fallen officers.
was only the beginnings of this story for my community. Over the past year we have gone from trying to care for the families of the fallen, remembrances of them at holidays and such, to witnessing the beginning of the trials of those who aided and abetted the fleeing gunman.
Still in disbelief, each time our wounds were reopened. We watched in horror as those involved in hiding the gunman tried to justify their behavior. We wondered how anyone could really believe there was a justification for hiding such a perpetrator. Before us the worst of what human nature has to offer.
We also watched the torn hearts and broken dreams of the families of the fallen officers sharing their stories or sitting there in the court room. There we saw strength and courage as these families put their personal feelings aside to honor the memories of their lost family members always being there to see their loved ones not forgotten and for justice to be served. Before us the best of what human nature has to offer.
Today on the anniversary of this tragic event a ceremony dedicating a memorial to these officers is being broadcast. To begin the acknowledgement of this day, family members went together to the Forsa Coffee Company and bought a cup of coffee at the exact moment their loved ones were gunned down one year ago today.
One of the speakers at the memorial service compared this tragic day to the explosion of the Challenger, the attack on the twin towers and the assassination of a president. I must admit that comparison rings true for me. My world was rocked as dramatically by this event as any of those national tragedies. My false perception of my safety was once again shaken to the core. If four police officers were no safer than that, how could I possibly feel safe in this world.
My all of my community has felt this fear, they have not succumbed to it. Instead of shrinking from this disturbing event, the community has embraced it as a way to honor these officers. From the beginning the families of the fallen have been taken under the wing of the community which has raised money for college funds for the children, seen to the day to day needs of the families, collected massive amounts of food in the names of the officers for those in need etc.
Funds were raised for two memorials to be built, one at the Forza Coffee Company and one at the Lakewood Police Station. The ceremony today officially dedicates these two memorials.
Once again, the tragic event of a year ago today is being used to gather food for those in need. Records for donations were already being broken before the ceremony was even finished. While these officers are gone from us, their memories are serving as an reminder of the strength and goodness people are capable of.
What better tribute could there be?