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End of Watch
Shards of red and blue light pierce the tree canopy as the caravan moves toward its destination. Through rear windows in the ambulance, I see the medic, perched on the chest of the fallen. As the doors open, and I see his tears falling on his fingers as he feverously works to restore this life. ER personnel stand transfixed. Unable to process the surreal sight of a blood soaked uniform with a medic riding the chest of this mortal hero. Events transpire in slow motion over the next few minutes as this army of medical staff attempt to perform some miracle that will return this soul to friends and family, but God has already called him home. On scene, we move about in disbelief as the words fall heavily over the air…he is gone. As the vanguard of Heavens gate receives a new warrior, the sirens echo eulogies across the darkness of a summer night. Our hearts break, our resolve strengthens and with a new clarity of purpose we move forward. Hold your perimeter, stay the course, we still have a job to do. This is like every other homicide yet like no other. He hovers above us, watching our toil, resting his hand on our shoulders assuring us we will survive this, the deepest cut we have ever suffered. One step at a time, bonding together to ease the pain, working each task as always, to completion, to trial and conviction. We have now joined the ranks of the victims…the survivors.
Now we gather in memory of your life, to raise awareness of your sacrifice, along with all of the others who are with you. We vow to build a great hall where your deeds will be remembered by those who loved you and others who simply wish to pay tribute. Each year, we ride from all corners of this great Nation and from all over the world to be near, to remember, to mourn our collective losses. We will help those who have found themselves thrust into our presence by some similar unfortunate fate. We will be here, to hold them up as we all struggle to endure. To give them some measure of strength as theirs seems to wane. To walk them down that long aisle as eyes watch. To hold them close; clutched to a uniform, a presence, a bond only we can share. The souls of the 18,000 walk among us, gently lifting those who would fall, steadying the step of those who falter, shielding us from the pain we feel as only their loving memory can do. The task at hand is great and we are humbled. With each step we stand taller, transformed in the strength of their collective souls. As night falls a brilliant blue light pierces the darkness, and the souls of the 18,000 take to the night sky and form a barrier between calm and chaos, they are the thin blue line, if only for this night and in this hallowed place. We Remember… skr