Today, I take a moment to honor those who lost their lives in the 9/11/2001 attacks. I pray their families have found healing, and that not just today, but every day, the memories they made with the people still here are relished.
Our family is still coping with the attack last week, let alone 11 years ago. I’ve sat down to write this post a dozen times, but the homage to the fallen of 9/11 just aren’t coming out right.
It’s because I’m not supposed to remember the 2,996 people (including 19 hijackers) that perished. God has put on my heart to hold true to a statement often said when someone dies a sudden and often tragic death.
We Will Never Forget.
While I am humbled by the service of the NYPD, FDNY, and their supporting agencies, as well as saddened by the loss of innocent lives, in all honesty, my mind can’t stop thinking about those that I have had to personally live through their deaths.
Today, I honor just a few of the the men who have fallen during my time as an LEO Spouse. Today is a day of remembrance, folks.
My first experience of LEO loss is a haze. There was a detective, following up on a case, somewhere semi-local (across a bridge), that was shot and killed. I remember seeing my then-boyfriend’s reaction, and not really getting it. I mean, how could a guy’s death, someone you’ve never met, nor had heard of before then, make you react that way?
Now, almost 10 years later, I get it.
Ofc. Larry Lasater: EOW April 24, 2005. Larry’s death was the first one that I had been a part of as an LEOW. The Hubby and I had been married for almost 5 months, and I thought it was important that I “see what I was in for”. I had no idea, that 7 years later, I would still have Ofc. Lasater’s Policeman’s Prayer card in my possession. A friend, who was in the Academy with the Hubby, on the Hubby and my First Date (a double. He wasn’t some weird third wheel), the Hubby’s roommate before we got together, and in our wedding just months before, was on-scene at this event. It brought reality to our doorsteps. I’ll never forget seeing his 8-month pregnant wife walk into the Concord Pavillion. I think about her and her child, and what she told him/her about their Daddy.
Thank you, Larry, for laying your life down so that I was able to be realistic about the possibilities of my future.
Sgt. Paul Starzyk: EOW September 6, 2008. Sgt. Starzyk wasn’t a personal friend. I’m not even sure the Hubby knew him. But he was shot and killed close to home, and for some reason, his name is impressed on my heart regularly. Since his death, I have driven by the location of the incident and will always remember him as I pass by. The business may be different, but I’ll remember. Heck, the building might even be different, but on that stretch of road, I remember and honor Sgt. Starzyk’s sacrifice.
Thank you, Sgt. Starzyk, for making me remember. The fact that I didn’t even know you, yet you have impacted me by making me remember.
Sgt. Daniel Sakai, Sgt. Ervin Romans, Sgt. Mark Dunakin, Ofc. John Hege: EOW March 21, 2009. I was the one who notified the Hubby about the shooting of two Oakland Motors and two SWAT members. I’ll never forget calling him while he was at work and asking if he knew anything about what was going on in Oakland. I heard him turn on the TV as his co-workers gathered around. I had the honor of meeting Sgt. Roman’s widow, hugging her, and hearing her bless my family. I attended the funeral in Oakland, pregnant with Middle and an emotional wreck. Still, I can see Sgt. Sakai’s young child playing at her mother’s feet, seemingly unaware that thousands of eyes were on her. I can easily bring to memory the fly-over in Missing Man Formation. Four Times Over. I can visualize with vividness the site of the two motors, still parked behind the car that carried their murderer, lights still flashing.
Thank you, Sgts. Sakai, Romans, and Dunakin, and Ofc. Hege, for your deaths provided me the opportunity to see such family gather en masse to honor you. Knowing if anything should ever happen to the Hubby, the world’s loss will be mourned not just by me and my family and those who immediately knew and loved him, but by the entire law enforcement family.
Ofc. Joel Young: DOD October 16, 2009. Joel did not die in the line of duty. He died while at his home, at age 37. Joel was the Hubby’s friend and confidant in the Academy, and his roommate for a spell. Joel was the kind of guy the Hubby could call at any time, for any reason (though he didn’t do that often), and Joel would be there. At the time of Joel’s death, the Hubby and I had been together for 7 years, and in that 7 years, I had met Joel exactly once. But the moment the Hubby got a message on Facebook from another Academy Brother asking “Have you talked to Joel? I can’t reach him”, the Hubby sprang into action. Less than an hour later, the Hubby was on his way to Joel’s house, having heard that he had died and people were gathering to help his widow. Because Joel’s death was not on-duty, his widow was not awarded the same benefits as LODD spouses would get. The Hubby and I, along with the incredible support of some of his fellow Academy Brothers and close friends of Joel’s, hosted a Poker Tournament, giving all the proceeds to his wife (Just over $2,700). Joel’s death was related to the stress he encountered on the job.
Thank you, Joel, for taking the Hubby in when he needed a friend, always being there for him, and for giving your life for the greater good.
Ofc. Kenyon Youngstrom: EOW September 5, 2012. This was the first 11-99 the Hubby has personally been on-scene for. We are still figuring out how this will change our lives, but we pass by the location more often than any of the other LODD locations. There is a push to name a part of 680 to memorialize Ofc. Youngstrom. The Hubby isn’t too keen on the idea, mainly because he is still working out his own feelings about the event. I, on the other hand, want the public at large to remember.
Kenyon, thank you for being a man of God. Thank you for playing your part in God’s Master Plan, because of your death, I have found my faith strengthened, and my heart and eyes opened. I’ve found clarity in dealing with my own fears over the Hubby’s safety. I’ve connected with fellow LEO Spouses, to support, love, and listen, as I never had before. Your passing has brought this LEO family closer. I am forever grateful for that.
Lord God, I ask that you put on my readers hearts a spirit of thankfulness and remembrance for the days and people that gave all for them. We know that way before Sept. 4, 2012, and even before Sept. 11, 2001, Jesus gave all for us. Today, we remember and give thanks for that sacrifice too.