Over the years we have honored athletes and entertainers who show outstanding accomplishments in annual award ceremonies. Yet in our current culture there is an outstanding omission of recognition to a large group of men and women who daily protect us from all perceived harm. These are members of the law enforcement agencies and the fire service community. Many have been severely injured and some have even given their lives to ensure all of us a certain level of life-safety.
Based on the *National Law Enforcement Officer’s website there are over 900,000 men and women in our law enforcement agencies in the U.S of whom approximately 1,500 have lost their lives over the past ten years in the line of duty. They have also had 580,000 assaults perpetrated against them resulting in over 156,000 serious injuries during that period. The *NFPA (National Fire Protective Association) website shows 1,130,000 men and women in our fire service departments. These first responders have lost 965 members in the line of duty and had 800,000 injured over the past ten years responding to all our emergency calls for assistance.
I propose to set aside an honorary day and not a new public holiday for all to show respect and honor to these men and women who may be called to go beyond their call of duty to protect and defend us and our property from most hazardous incidents.
I am sure that there are others better qualified who can offer more appropriate means to honor these dedicated public safety officers but I would like to offer my suggestion. I propose St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, as the day of choice as many of these same men and women will be marching in parades throughout the U.S. on this day. In the early formation of these departments Irish Americans or Irish immigrants composed a large percent of the enrollment in many of our large American cities. Also a highly distinct honor is afforded to the Emerald Society’s marching pipe band, made up of Irish-American members from the local Police or Fire Departments, who lead the funeral processions of fallen officers and may stand as an honor guard during the funeral services. Most Americans hold both services in high esteem and some have joined the Irish to celebrate that day so it is only fitting that they could also be honoring members of their own families who serve or did serve faithfully over the past many years
Sometime during that day whether it is in a devotional observance or at a public entertainment event we can signal out these men and women, active and retired, and lift a toast and offer our sincere gratitude by declaring that they are truly valued in our daily lives and wish each and everyone a safe and healthy year ahead.
* National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund www.nleomf.org/
National Fire Protective Association www.nfpa.org/research
Bob Sweeney, is President of RES Associates, Business Consultant to the Construction Industry “Life Safety in Construction “ based in Warwick.