“The medal of Valor is the highest national award a public safety officer can receive.”
“He had rifles, they had handguns. A big difference.” That was the opening assessment spoken by President Donald Trump at the “American Heroes Week” Commemoration held July 27, 2017 at the White House. The president laced the Medal of Valor around the postures of five courageous law enforcement officers who, on June 14, 2017, raced forward and forged rescue efforts under threat of a crazed gunman’s rifle-fire. Their superhero-like determined decisions ultimately saving many lives with tangible threats to their own. Albeit cliché, these uniformed heroes raced to the putrid breath of evil while expending potentially last-breaths of their own. The definitive proof of that is Rep. Steve Scalise who was recently discharged from the hospital, living to recount the experience of being plucked from the clench of death.
As we watched and read about the June 2017 assassination attempts on Congressional members playing baseball, the diamond-shaped plot upon which they were targeted was subsequently dubbed “the killing field.” However, the only death was to the shooter, compliments of the sheer bravery and fortitude of police officers whose training kicked-in and whose firearms abbreviated the debacle before it reached insurmountable proportions.
With empirical dedication, President Trump also lauded members of Congress and public safety dispatchers who instrumentally aided the overall lifesaving effort, who performed strokes of humanity, who bolstered the decisive response of myriad first responders.
Watching the commemoration, notice the placement cards organized on the dais floor, behind the president, assembling the order for those whose duty it is to settle disorder. It is a nuance born of an oath. It is practiced posture of each of the five Medal of Valor recipients, erect as erect can be (US Capitol Officer Crystal Griner’s leg wound predicated being seated, but upright). The seeming stoicism understandably stems from the thrill to be alive and the afterthoughts of taking down a monster.
For my police career, any medal or award was the iconic key to a life encounter from which evolution is the dividend, scars and all. I’ve a shadow box I never fastened to a wall. In my mind’s eye, I know I did some good. I trust my children see it that way.
I’ve never been in an officer-involved shooting, but I know many cops who have: their psyche appears with some degree of sacrifice and fractional alterations in persona. There is nothing gleeful about being in a professional position authorized to take the life of someone whose moral compass sunk in the pond of pathological muck. Under every police uniform is a flesh-and-bones human who is just as inhibited as any one of us in similar dire circumstances. Pushing through it all, though, equates to tacit reflections upon the glistening badges.
You can see the expressions upon President Trump’s face throughout the “American Heroes Week” ceremony during which he highlighted US Capitol police special agents Crystal Griner and David Bailey as well as Alexandria police officers Nicole Battaglia, Alexander Jensen and Kevin Jobe. The president illuminates when talking about the nation’s police community. His intonations fluctuate when he utters words of admiration for and pride towards the members of the law enforcement institution.
Despite the ostensible shake-ups at the White House lately, the nation’s leader granted comments from a settled heart and soul, from the inner sanctum replete with rapt attention and applause. Mr. Trump planted a kiss on the cheek of Special Agent Griner who, donning a prosthetic boot stemming from a bullet wound, ambulated via a set of crutches.
Despite allegations of “crazy” spoken behind his shoulders recently, America’s commander-in-chief knows that when kryptonite threatens cops…it is justly boxed and buried.
No need to list the shooter here; this is not about him. It is, however, about the five public servants who confronted his evilness and placed an exclamation point to the sentence he brought upon himself. Only one life was tallied. Injuries to some innocents were sustained. Five Medal of Valor ribbons were bestowed. The apparatus and public safety machine were on display…and did what it is sworn to do.
As Rep. Steve Scalise stated, “The medal of Valor is the highest national award a public safety officer can receive, and is given to those who have exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, to save or protect human life.” These five recipients indeed epitomize all the badge represents.
The president closed his remarks and concluded the ceremony with the salutations: “God bless our truly amazing law enforcement and God bless America.” Unflinchingly, the five law enforcement honorees stood at attention, as readied as they were on June 14, 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia.