May 12, 2006
Frequently, I find myself working to understand and appreciate the things that motivate people. The things that cause them to act or react. Sometimes it’s about what causes them to do small things, but often it’s about what prompts them to choose a path that becomes the thread of a life.I think I’ve become more reflective about this recently. Probably because I’m getting older and see myself and friends thinking about the choices they made and now, here at mid-life, whether there may be time to make new choices. It might also be because I have two boys who are still young and unaware really of how they’ll be making those choices sooner than they think — if they’re thinking at all.But, many times I have asked myself about what motivates a person to become a police officer. And, I will admit I’ve done it every time I hear of the challenges faced by those who serve.I know something about what police officers do. Obviously, in four-plus years as mayor I went to some of you for counsel.I watched you in action and took enormous pride in the work you did for all of us.And I stood in those heart-breaking ceremonies that honored one of your colleagues when they were killed for doing nothing more than their jobs.But standing here today, as I again find myself trying to understand why you do what you do, I must confess, I remain mystified at the path you’ve chosen, the calling you’ve answered.This ceremony honors your colleagues that made the ultimate sacrifice. But death is just one of the sacrifices that police officers must sometimes make.It’s a sacrifice every time you make that fearful walk up to a strange car in the middle of the night.It’s a sacrifice when, in the explosive heat of a moment, you must instantaneously wade through all of your training, and the anticipation of the second-guessing that you all know so well, before you take action that lives, including your own or your partner’s, may depend on.It’s a sacrifice when you expose yourselves to the very worst that humanity has to offer, and then try to bring it to bear or even to fix it.And, your family makes that sacrifice with you. In two days, we will celebrate Mother’s Day. I think of the sacrifice that comes from those mothers who send their sons and daughters, or their husbands, out in harm’s way to do their job. I think of Amy Donovan, a mother of four. I think of her sacrifice and that of her beautiful family.So, I’m again left with the question: why do you make that sacrifice? Why do you feel called to do what you do?And I know the reason.You do it for me. For my family. For my friends and my neighbors.You make the sacrifice. You place your lives on the line. Those we honor here tonight gave their lives. They and you are called for all of us–so that we can function, so that we can feel safe, so that society can exist.Your motivation, I think, has very little to do with you. It has everything to do with us. It is what you were called to do on our behalf.When I think of your motives, your calling and what you do for us, I think of Romans 12, v. 6-11.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
We take this opportunity to honor those who have given their lives for us all. We also honor all of you. We thank God that you are still with us, and we would be nowhere without you.Thank you and God bless you.