My name isn’t Elizabeth Shiftwell but I am the author of “Dear Officer, I See You” and “Dear Officer’s Wife, I See You Too.” To my surprise, both blogs went viral within a couple of hours. I have to be honest. Watching the world share my words throughout social media has been one of the most fascinating things that has ever happened to me. When I initially wrote it, I wrote it for myself. I had been carrying around the weighty emotion behind those words for a long time. I had wanted to write out my thoughts for a significant amount of time but knew that it would bring substantial backlash from a divided America. This is why I chose to write it under an alias.
After I hit submit, I watched the comments fall into place. And, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Of course there were several comments that fell to both sides of the extreme. They were the comments that disappointed me. But, the vast majority was heart touching. Officers from New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, Boston, and the rest of the country started chiming in. And they all seemed to have a pretty common theme.
“I needed to see this today.”
“This touched my heart. Thank you for reminding me why I do what I do.”
“Thank you for being a voice for us.”
As they continued to sound off from across the United States, I had this sort of epiphanic moment. It was sudden and almost took the breath out of me. I realized that they were all hurting. They were hurting even more than I even realized; even though I am married to a man in uniform. They are hurting on a level that only they can truly understand. And, you’ll be hard pressed to find an officer who wants to talk about their feelings. You’ll be hard pressed to find one that will allow you to see how deeply this has affected them. And, You’ll be hard pressed to find an officer that will tell you that they need you. The world doesn’t allow them to be weak. The world doesn’t allow them to be human. And the world most definitely doesn’t allow them to defend their character on the same level it has been assassinated.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some big public voices out there that are very supportive of the Law Enforcement family. I feel like I can speak for most of them when I say that it does not go unappreciated. We need these big voices to be heard but even more so, we need those who are being silent to speak up. We need the people who are angry in silence to find their voices. We need the people who are ready for change to actively pursue it instead of only discussing it at their dinner table. They need you, silent majority. They need to know that you have their backs. They need to know that you see what is happening to them. Because right now, it feels like voices like @alisonsports are the ones being heard; voices that are calling for the demise of every law enforcement officer’s life.
And Jovonne Henderson, a man who is calling for the kidnapping and the attacks on the innocent children of Police Officers.
Unfortunately, that is just a small sample of an all too common dialog. And, this is exactly why they are hurting. They are hurting because, at some point, it stopped being about people hating them and it started becoming about the well being of their families. They signed up to protect you and me. They signed up to protect our families and the least we can do is prove to them that their sacrifices are worth it.
I am so tired of people saying “It’s their job” or “They signed up for it.” When I was 8 months pregnant, I woke up to a 4AM phone call. As soon as I heard his voice, I knew something was wrong. My husband had been involved in a shoot out that started off as a fire call. He was the first responder. I’m still not sure how he managed to come home that night. I could have easily woken up to the Chief of Police knocking at my door. I still believe to this day that it was only by the grace of God that I didn’t. Some could even argue that I signed up for it when I said “I do.” That’s where so many people are wrong. We can’t minimize the sacrifice of people who defend our country, whether it be here or abroad, by saying that they died because it was their job. That shifts the responsibility off of the person who took their life and puts it in the hands of the officer. They deserve better than that.
We can’t allow these men and women to feel isolated or, quite frankly, people will stop signing up for it. Yes, you’re right. It is their job, but it takes a special kind of person to know what it’s like to know that your life is on the line. I feel that a breaking point is coming. I feel like the next tragedy is right around the corner. I’d even wager that it always is. Even though they are being executed, assaulted, attacked, and belittled, they will continue to rise up against the faces of evil. Even though people do not appreciate them, they’ll still pull them from the wreckage, rescue them from a fire, and run towards the danger while everyone else is running to safety. For every tweet and facebook calling for their lives, there are 5 moments just like this.
They deserve your voices, America. They are hurting and it’s our responsibility to carry some of their burden. Let’s speak up. It’s time to be heard.
Sounds Off, America.
Much Love to our Heroes.