We thought all our friends would be interested in these remarks from yesterday’s memorial service. Please take the time to read.
[Note: Heather Fong is an Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security and the former Chief of Police, San Francisco, CA. She was the featured speaker at the May 11, 2015, 36th Annual Washington Area Law Enforcement Memorial Service. Born and raised in America, her parents came from China. She was sworn in as a SFPD uniformed police officer in 1977, and worked through the ranks of inspector, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, commander, deputy chief, assistant chief, acting chief and, then permanent chief. She apparently had issues with the rank and file because of her relationship with the Mayor, but this is not about politics. Please take a few minutes to read. She is spot on.]
Washington Area Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service
Assistant Secretary Heather Fong Keynote Remarks
Monday, May 11, 2015
Thank you Brianne for that kind introduction.
Mayor Bowser, Attorney General Racine, Chief Lanier, the DC Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police and its Auxiliary, and the DC Chapter of the Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS), distinguished guests, families and friends.
Thank you for being here with us this morning.
I am honored to be able to share a few thoughts with you today, to remember and celebrate the 2 lives of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our communities and to our nation.
Today, we are here to honor the memories of Corporal Jamel Leon Clagett and Sergeant Clinton Jeffrey Holtz, two officers who we lost in the line of duty, in the Washington Region the past year.
They died doing what all law enforcement officers do every day – protecting us, our families, our communities, and serving the American people.
Law enforcement is much more than a job. It’s about being part of a family, but not an ordinary family. We are the family that makes up federal, state, local, tribal and territorial law enforcement. Corporal Clagett lived this sense of family by dropping off breakfast to the midnight dispatchers following his shift. Sergeant Holtz, the nearly 7 feet tall “gentle giant,” entered the law enforcement profession, following in the footsteps of his late father, a Baltimore City police officer. These two, and many of you, are the men and women that have answered the call to serve. To be that thin blue line between the innocent and those that wish to do others harm.
No one really knows why some young men and women hear and answer the call to this noble profession. Many say that it is because of an inherent and deep sense of responsibility and drive to serve others, which is understood by few, but impacts the lives of so many. We come from diverse backgrounds and communities, yet there is a unifying trait among the men and women of law enforcement. There is a common value that is central to our very core. These are individuals who understand that the words democracy, freedom, and safety are not just words that ring hollow or are taken lightly. They understand that these words represent the basis for our way of life, and that these words and privileges come at great cost.
Each day, officers across the country work with communities to form the bonds that reduce harm and fear. These valiant individuals serve for the greater good and are prepared to give their all for their fellow men, women and children. Our role has become much more challenging. We must be crime fighters and must also protect the American people from the threat of terrorism and home grown extremism. Recently, we see law enforcement across the country and abroad being targeted simply because we wear the uniform, star or badge and have pledged to protect our communities from those who would harm them.
As law enforcement officers, we accept a certain way of life, one that is unpredictable, uncertain, and yes, sometime dangerous. When we lose one of our own, it shakes us to the core. Yet, we remember them as our heroes, and keep them in our hearts because we know that their sacrifice was not in vain. They were living out their promise and commitment to be a guardian of others.
As parents, spouses, children, siblings, friends, and colleagues, you inspired them to serve by your support and love. This love remains constant even though they are no longer here with us.
Let us honor the memories of Corporal Clagett and Sergeant Holtz, the 115 other women and men from across the country, who gave their lives in 2014, and those of the past, by strengthening our commitment to this great profession and the people we serve.
Let us pledge to never forget them and to hold their families close in our hearts, and continue to tell their stories. They certainly would have done this for us.
Your loved ones, our partners, these great Americans; they will be remembered, for there are none more noble.
I want to end today with a quote from the early 20th Century writer G.K. Chesterton. He once wrote that “Courage is a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of the readiness to die.” We stand here today alive, free, and able pursue the things that make us happy, because of the courage of those that we remember today.
As we celebrate the lives of these courageous individuals, we need to also remember to thank those of you who continue to serve on the thin blue line. It is not an easy time to be in law enforcement, but the courage you show every day, to wake up, put the uniform on, and leave your families to protect the families of others you do not know – that individual act of every day courage – that allows us to sleep peacefully at night and gives us hope for our future. So thank you, thank all of you for what you do every day.
God bless those who we remember today and God bless the men and women of law enforcement – your courage is our hope.