MEMORIAL DAY AND SACRIFICE
Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2021 will occur on Monday, May 31.
Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings, and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season.
My family is a Blue Star Family with one of our Son's, Vince serving as an Army Green Beret Master Sergeant, so the recent celebration of Armed Forces Day on May 15th and the upcoming 245th birthday of the US Army on June 14th holds special significance in our household. Memorial Day is a hallowed holiday for the many who have sacrificed their all in the defense of our freedoms. I know many in our community have sacrificed for our nation. The Honor Roll in the lobby at City Hall lists the contributors to freedom from Parsons. Today there are many Parsonians who have currently serving family members deployed across the country and around the world this weekend.
The incredible sacrifices that our military men and women make is indescribable, valiant, beyond heroic, and sometime forgotten by the privileged masses today.
These people, sons and daughters, husbands, and wives, lay their lives on the line for their country, for strangers and especially for the men and women around them.
I hate to compare movies to real world experience, but for many in our country those wide screen experiences are as close to living the military experience they will get.
Recent decades we could look to Restrepo (2010), Lone Survivor (2013), 12 Strong (2018), and many others to get just a glimpse of the sacrifices that have faced serving military members in recent years. Remember that there are about 1.3 million active-duty military personnel, or less than one-half of 1 percent of the country. We demand a lot from this small sliver of our population.
My Father was a Pearl Harbor Survivor on the USS Ralph Talbot a destroyer. Like many families, all my Uncles served in each of the services from Navy, Marine, Army and Army Air Force. There are a couple WWII movies I enjoy.
Watch "Midway." Consider the reality. These pilots, knowing the majority of them were not coming back from their missions, fought to get into those planes, take off and attack their enemy. Marvel at the fact that several of them jumped back into questionable aircraft after experiencing the terror of hundreds of guns firing at them while they tried to hit a moving target that was almost invisible because of the smoke, flak and explosions enveloping their planes. Ponder the sheer horror of watching dozens of their friends being blown out of the sky by anti-aircraft fire.
Band of Brothers. A fact only alluded to in the series is how many of those paratroopers, wounded, went AWOL from the hospital, not to flee the military and avoid the fighting but, incredibly, to return back to the front and join their company in battle! Their sacrifices and the sacrifices of our currently serving military members show amazing bravery. We enjoy the fruits of their sacrifice, living peacefully and safely. Memorial Day is a great day to remember, thank and support.
So those in policing across the United States, many who are also veterans, thank our military members this weekend. We appreciate their sacrifices. The ranks of policing include 1,000,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers, again less than one-half of 1 percent of the U.S. population try to partner with our community members to increase the safety and livability of our communities large and small.
In closing, we have to make significant break throughs not just on the faraway battlefields of the world for our military. But, on our local streets. Remember that active shooters are a challenge across the nation. Over 600 mass shootings in 2020, compared with 417 in 2019. That carnage has continued into 2021, with at least 232 mass shootings as of May 26, (including the recent mass shooting in San Jose, Calif). We will talk more about shootings in a future blog.
Remember that Memorial Day Weekend is more than the beginning of summer, it's a time to reflect upon service, lives lost and dreams yet to be achieved.
Robert Spinks - Chief of Police
Inspired from an editorial by Lt Jim Glennon (ret) at Calibre Press
Data from The New York Times, A Partial List of Mass Shootings in the United States in 2021, downloaded on May 27, 2021 from: https://www.nytimes.com/article/mass-shootings-2021.html
Nearly 60 years ago, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officer's Memorial Day and the week in which it falls as National Police Week. Established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962, National Police Week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.
This year, National Police Week will be commemorated with virtual events that can be viewed from anywhere in the world. From May 9-15, the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum will deliver programs to keep current officers safe and healthy, as well as ceremonies to honor those fallen officers whose names have been recently added to the Memorial.
Since January 91 Police Officers have been shot across the United States, with 19 killed by gunfire and 23 shot in ambushes. Even more eye opening is that 60,632 police officers were assaulted in 2018 (the most recent year for statistics). This past year, 5 Parsons Officers were assaulted and injured in the course of making lawful arrests.
The average size of an American police agency is just 25 officers. That is where the meat and potatoes of American policing occurs day in and day out. Policing in small towns is no less dangerous than in large metropolitan areas (in fact statistics show that the risk to police officers in small rural communities is actually greater than in the downtowns of most metro-cities). The difference is that in cities like Parsons, Independence, Coffeyville and hundreds of others, local police officers are active and engaged members of the communities and neighborhoods they police.
The police are you. And the community is responsible for policing their city by engaging in crime prevention (lights, locking doors, reporting suspicious activity), providing necessary resources for professional policing and in owning the livability of their town.
No question, we have seen some illegal, unprofessional, and discouraging acts by a small fraction of the policing community over the past year. Those actions have to be condemned by professional law enforcement and our larger community. Fortunately, our ever-evolving Parsons Police Department continues to lead in meeting regional, state, and national expectations for our work. We are an award-winning police department that is committed to continuous improvement. We have made significant investments in the transparency of our organization.
There is of course much to do - our community is a busy town. Merely making arrests will not solve some of our deep seating community challenges of domestic violence, drug addiction and people in crisis. But we remain open to partnering with all facets of our community. We all live here, we all call Parsons's home, and we will continue in our efforts to WOW our fellow neighbors, friends and Parsonians.