Deputy Sheriff Joseph Matuskovic
Charleston County Sheriff's Office, South Carolina
End of Watch: Monday, September 8, 2014
43 years of age. Killed by gunfire. 17 year veteran law enforcement officer. The same age as my husband.....the same amount of years in. Gone too soon.
Corporal Jason E. Harwood
Topeka Police Department, Kansas
End of Watch: September 7, 2014
40 years of age. Killed by gunfire. He served with the Topeka PD for 15 years. He leaves a wife and two children.
Patrolman II Nickolaus Schultz
Merrillville Police Department, IN
End of Watch: September 7, 2014
Only 24 years of age. Just over one year of law enforcement service.
The same age as my oldest daughter. Gone... at the hands of a suspect wearing body armor who ambushed responding officers, shooting Patrolman Schultz in the head.
Police Officer Daryl Pierson
Rochester Police Department, NY
End of Watch: September 3, 2014
Only 32 years of age. A National Guard Veteran with eight years of law enforcement service. He leaves behind a wife and two young children. Killed by gunfire by a man on parole for just three weeks after serving time for an attempted armed robbery.
A brief description of four men, who wore a badge. Each of them were murdered in their efforts to prevent further harm to their communities. Each of them gave their lives, not because they signed up to be murdered. Not because they signed up to be ambushed. Not because they signed up to be hunted. They laid down their lives for their fellow man, because of who they were. They died because of their honorable character. They died because they placed more worth on the lives of those around them than they did themselves. Sadly... I won't even finish this article without having more names to add. It is the sad reality we have been dealt lately.
Each and every one of those men have families. They have parents, siblings, spouses, children, grandparents. They have best friends from church, from academy, from high school, from college. They spent their time off duty doing for others. They went out of their way to be THAT friend. They were always willing to help their fellow man. They would give up time with their own families for another in need. They felt a beaming pride for the support they received from the ones who loved them which made it possible to head out on those streets each day and night. They felt loved. They felt loved enough to fight. They fought the fight to make it home to those who loved them....to those who prayed for them each time they walked away.
They had quirky smiles and mischievous laughs that filled the halls of their homes. They loved the occasional date night with their wives when the babies finally slept and the velcro came off at 3:00am and they curled up in bed and caught up on DVR episodes. Their wives would breathe in their smell and silently thank God for a "date night" which lasted ten minutes before exhaustion took over..... because they were safe. They had their loves, for one more day.
I could go on and on about the kind of men they were, the honorable lives they led, the influences they had on those they encountered, the love in their hearts.... it didn't take personally knowing them to read all about them on social media from those who did. It is clear each and every one of them will leave a legacy. That legacy is HONOR. For as much as these men were individuals, one thing which describes them all is BROTHERS. They were Brothers in Blue and they lived with Honor. We know they lived with honor because they gave their lives honoring an oath. There's an oath which dictates that part of what you willingly sign up for is the risk of laying down your life for your fellow man. Each of them did.... honorably. With dignity, with pride, and with a fight to honor their promise to make it home alive. They did their best.
We owe these men our respect. We owe their families our respect. Whether we are the typical supporters of law enforcement, whether we bleed blue or not, whether we believe there's honor in what these men and women of law enforcement do every day.... we should all possess enough humanity to respect what has happened here.
These four men have nothing to do with any other injustices in law enforcement. It's not their fault felons and parolees and fleeing suspects decided that day was the day they would take another life. These four men.... and so many others like them, got up that day, strapped on a vest, holstered a gun on their sides and a brass target on their chests.... and they did it for their communities.... and they died.
We live in a world hell bent on blame and denial and accusations and opinions and being heard and being a voice and being justified. We live in a world entitled to it all. We live in a world where we purposely seek out posts on the internet, not for the stories told, but for the comment fights which follow. We immerse ourselves in perpetuated hate filled drama where everything, whether life or death or disease or natural disaster has a joke in the form of a meme to belittle the point at hand. We live in a world where the media could care less about the lives they destroy as ratings trump reality and humanity is nothing more than a lost side note. We live in a world where organized hate is alive and well and yes, we live in a world where law enforcement is guilty of their own injustices.....just as every single other occupation is as well.
We live in a world which has lost the ability to simply let there be an appropriate time and place for personal opinion, where kindness and human nature and sympathy, regardless of personal feelings, are more important. We live in a world where having our own opinions validated trumps the pain of others. We live in a world where no one can just put it all aside for a moment, take a step back and say..... someone gave their life today, selflessly, because it was a job and they purposely signed up for that job knowing it could happen. We live in a world where for some ungodly reason, tax dollars make that perfectly fine and where common decency isn't required. We live in a world where the babies of these officers would hear from many that their daddy deserved to die....and so do every one of daddy's friends who carry his casket.
My God.... what have we become for our children? What is our legacy?
You can call me partial. You can call me brainwashed. You can call me whatever you please. I call myself a wife of an amazing man, my best friend, the father of my children. The father of my autistic son who has more patience and love and kindness and compassion for his family and others than anyone I've ever known. I know seventeen years later he's still a good officer and he's still in law enforcement for the right reason.... to make a difference. I know I'm married to a man who will be remembered for how he lived. I pray to God I am allowed to grow old with him. I pray for each and every person praying the same prayer and for those who loved an officer and don't get that chance.
Tonight, I don't care about the hate or the right to free speech or the entitlement or the injustices which have nothing to do with these four men. I don't care about those who say "they signed up for it, if they can't handle it, too bad". I don't care about those who choose to remove all humanity from human beings. Tonight I care about honoring these officers for how they lived. Tonight I care about the reminder that so many of them live the same way. The streets are full of the good ones tonight. They are all keeping their promise in mind...the promise to make it home alive. Each and every honorable officer is out on those streets knowing, without a doubt, they have a duty to their communities, that duty might include laying down their lives, and they are thanking God for their brothers and sisters in blue who have taken and honor the same oath.
My husband asked me once after a long, trying stretch of bad days.... "Why? Why do you support me in this crazy life? Why do you love me so much? I answered him with the raw truth.... "I love you for who you are, I love you so much more to make up for all of those who hate you".
Regardless of who you are or what you do in this life, ask yourself honestly..... what is your legacy?
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
Melissa Littles, Founder
The Police Wife Life, LLC