The Real Heroes

You know, our priorities in this country seem to be totally deranged (I had to thesaurus the word I really wanted to use, here). I’m not the first to point out this deficiency, either, but in light of recent circumstances, I have no choice but to write about it. This blog will not be full of my usual (or delusional) wittiness, but my utmost respect needs to be paid to the people I will be discussing.

Our little corner of the globe has been traumatized in a way I don’t think anyone could have expected. A family had to face the intentional death of their loved one and there is man hunt going on for the man who committed this unspeakable crime.

All of us regular citizens holed up in our houses, locked our doors, and kept updated with Facebook and the news. Our local (and not so local) law enforcement, however, rushed to the scene and faced this horrific crime head on. One such person, that I know personally, was scheduled to be off and had to suit up and head north to deal with this. I’m sure he would rather have stayed home with his family and enjoyed the beautiful weekend we were blessed with, but he did not. Instead, he rushed to the scene of the crime at 6 AM and worked non-stop to help members of the community feel safe. He worked nearly 24 hours to assist the people who were facing the death of a loved one. He, risking his own family, went into the line of fire looking for the fugitive who committed this horrific crime.

He, folks, is not the only one. We had massive amounts of law enforcement that this area has never seen show up to help support the victim’s family and find the perpetrator. We even had the SWAT team, which had to leave late at night to drive nearly 5 hours to deal with another emergency. Each of these officers risked their lives (and still are risking it) to seek justice for the victim. These people do not think twice when they suit up and fight for our own. Law enforcement officers, soldiers, and firefighters are by far the most heroic people in our country at this time- but they are the least thanked.

I hear people blaming law enforcement for the tragedies that happen and laws that they break. People swear at them, swear about them, and complain about them. I have to say, when I hear, “If that pig wouldn’t have stopped me, I wouldn’t have lost my license,” and continue to blame this valiant person for their own criminal acts, I want to create a crime of my own. This is terribly ridiculous. Police officers, soldiers, and firefighters put their lives in danger to keep this country safe and instead of bowing down to thank them, we are often blaming them.

I ask that you stop. I ask that you take responsibility for your actions and face the laws that you broke head on. You are not entitled to blaming someone else for it.

Now, I will say that there are such people who abuse their power and are not the upstanding citizens they pretend to be, but at this moment, I honestly don’t care. I value every single officer that has worked through the night in our little town to keep us all safe. While we don’t see this level of violence very often, officers in other areas of this country go to work daily to face this. They enter situations that are unsafe to keep others safe. This is phenomenal. This is truly inspirational.

Not only do officers and soldiers get crap for doing their job, they also get crap for pay. There was a photo circulating around Facebook that said, “I think that a man wearing a helmet protecting our country should get paid more than a man protecting a football.” It’s totally the same with police officers- I read an article a few months ago about a man who was a police officer had to seek general assistance for his family. Really?

According to indeed.com, the average salary for police officers is $26,000. While this figure is pretty low, the average on salary.com is about $51,000. For our purposes, we’ll say the average pay is about $40,000 per year. Good money, right? That’s about average for a teacher, too. I have to say, being a teacher and all, that when I go home, I go home. I bring work home with me, but no one will call me on my day off and demand that I go in to the school to face an armed student. No one will call me at 6 in the morning and expect me to suit up and show up to teach some kid how to read when I have plans with my family. I’ve argued many times that I am underpaid, but not as much as law enforcement.

I also recently read that Kanye West compared himself to a police officer or soldier, or something stupid like that. The police officer who came back at him said enough and made me giggle, but I would like to point out that Kanye’s net worth is like $100,000,000. That’s a lot more zeroes than if a police officer made $40,000 for 20 years- $800,000. It may sound like a lot, but after paying a mortgage, food, insurance, payments, etc. for 20 years, it’s actually not enough.

If you ask any service employee why they do what they do, the answer will never be for the money… but it would probably help. These very people run into burning buildings, face a man with a gun, and live overseas in the desert away from their families. They wake up every day with the realization that it could be their last. They see things that scar them, give them nightmares, increase their chance of mental illness, and decrease their live’s longevity. They do all of this (and much more) for a minimal salary and high levels of disrespect.

Every American needs to see the value in our service men and women, whether on American soil or not. These people see the circle of poverty first hand and, often times, face poverty themselves. I think that until we begin to value the men and women who put their lives on the line by paying them respect and higher salary they deserve, we will continue to see the ‘us against them’ mentality and the violence that has plagued our nation.

I am truly grateful for the bravery in this country, I just wish we would make it a priority to make them a priority. If we don’t do something, all of these men and women will feel under-appreciated, which is not okay. I know it’s not much, but I would like to say thank you to every single individual who risked their lives today to keep us safe. I would like to remind them that there are people out there who respect them. There are people who think they deserve more than they are offered. More pay, more respect, more prestige.

Thank a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or soldier today. Who knows, it may be the only thanks they’ll get.