Today’s #BlueFriday honorees are the 17 brave young men and women from the graduating class of the Essex County Police Academy.
They started their careers as Corrections Officers on Friday morning at 6am. So of course they couldn’t listen to the show and I suspect they’ll be exhausted from Day One and may not catch Chasing News tonight. If they were able to tune in they’d hear just how much we appreciate the courage and sacrifice made by the men and women who get up every morning and put on a uniform.
At the graduation ceremony I was given the honor of delivering the keynote speech for the evening. The event was outstanding. Approximately 300 family members and friends crowded the auditorium to show their love and support for the young men and women about to embark on what could be a 25 or 30 year career as as critical members of the Law Enforcement community. The event was marked by precision marching and a patriotic theme befitting a military ceremony. There were also prayers.
My remarks focused on the family sacrifice and the meaning of courage which is evident in all of our law enforcement professionals. Courage is often misunderstood in America, I hoped to shed a little light on it’s true meaning. During my speech I specifically mention that when a former Olympian gets an award for ‘Courage’ because he decides to change his gender identity, we have lost our understanding of what the word truly means. Courage is running up the stairs of the World Trade Center as thousands are coming down. Courage is running toward gunfire, breaking up a crime in progress and any other circumstance where your own personal safety and life may be compromised for the greater good of your community, family and country.
On the radio this morning I had a chance to speak with the “Singing Cop”, famous for his performance after 9/11 helping the nation get back on track. He’s former NYPD officer Daniel Rodriguez and joined me on air today to discuss his role as a former officer and musician. He described the details of his experience on 9-11-2001 when he realized what was unfolding as ash and computer paper began covering the pavement on the Verrazano bridge after the first plane hit the tower. He went into detail about his thought process facing a decision as the first tower began to crumble and fall. He chose to ignore the instinct to flee for his own safety and instead headed toward the thick black smoke and crushing debris to help as many as he could escape the horror. That’s courage.
Courage will also be found in the young men and women who started as professional Corrections Officers today. They will get up, put on the uniform and head behind the walls and bars of the Essex County Corrections System. They won’t get headlines or accolades in public. They will however, quietly do their duty and help create order from chaos behind bars. Again. Courage.