“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith…” -II Timothy 4:7
Today the city I work for laid to rest 29-year-old police officer Travis Murphy. One week ago he was chasing a suspect when the man turned and fired at him; Travis died a couple of hours later at the hospital. The suspect was apprehended later by officers with K9 units and rubber bullets. He turned out to be a convicted violent felon who wasn’t allowed to possess a firearm.
Before the service began, I stood with the rest of my unit behind the police detail, baking in the sun, wondering how the men and women I stood with were coping with the heat in their polyester uniforms. I watched them quake as they fought the tears that neared the surface when Travis’ casket passed. They kept a level of calm that only those who serve are capable of. His best friend, his mother and his wife all spoke, telling stories about him and his resolute stubbornness – and his passion to serve. I kept my grit well until the graveside service; the pipe and drum corps played “Amazing Grace” and the final call came over the radio. I don’t think anybody really held it in at that point, especially when the dispatcher’s voice quavered on saying, “you will be deeply missed. Rest in peace.”
When police Commander Jack Harris spoke, you could see the years hanging on him. It was as if he had grown weary long ago of burying officers whose entire purpose for putting on the uniform was to serve. Listening to this today, I began to think about those I’ve lost and those still with us and all the times, good and bad, that we’ve shared. I am not and will never be a cop, however as an EMT I see them often and I love every one of them. I began to mentally compose the following as we drove back to our station today. It may evolve over time but this is what I’ve got so far.
I serve my family, my friends, and those I’ve never met. I leave home each day knowing it may be my last.
I serve knowing that my family fears the moment that I walk out the door and prays for the moment I return.
I serve knowing that every moment to come is uncertain; there is no such thing as “routine.”
I serve those who are innocent; they need a defender in their moment of vulnerability and an advocate when the community fails them.
I serve those who are accused; no matter what I believe, they have rights.
I serve my brothers and sisters in the ranks. They count on me to stand with them regardless of the circumstances.
I serve so that those I love will never be touched by the evil that pervades this world.
I serve in the hope that when I leave this world, it will be a better place for having had me in it.