A Word from the Fair on Patriots’ Day

May God bless America, may America bless God

What is more mid-West America than a county fair? The horse events, cattle and pig judging, craftsmen and artists presenting their work for sale and, of course, the sausage sandwiches and scores of other fair fares all combine to make the county fair the place to be! When I was in elementary school (a few years ago) we would receive a free ticket to be used on ‘Fair Day’ when schools were closed to allow students to attend the fair. In rural areas, like Wayne County Ohio, many of the kids had animals in the fair to show.

If you have followed SCI this week on FB you know that we are spending the week at the Wayne County Fair with a booth all our own which means I have been staying at the fair quite a bit, aided greatly by my wife and family. This morning, I took a walk across the fairgrounds around 5 a.m. Other than the occasional sounds of sheep, horses, cows and even a squealing pig, most of the human animals who had spent the night were still asleep. Long before dawn, though, those who own cows were up and walking their animals to the milking stations.

What caught my attention in the pre-dawn coolness of the night was the Memorial Pavilion. There, in a nicely kept section of lawn was a set of flags around a large stone declaring the community’s support for all those who serve or have served in the U.S. military and the seals of each of the branches of the Armed Forces. Dawn was just beginning to break as I stood there lost in thought about what occurred on this Patriot’s Day in 2001. I stepped around the side of the memorial stone and lowered the American flag to half-mast as is required by Executive Order these past sixteen-years. As I secured the rope to the pole, I stepped back, rendered a hand salute and said a brief prayer, “May God bless America and may America bless God.”fair booth.jpg

On this Patriot’s Day, at our SCI booth, right in the middle of the doorway will be a flag with the Twin Towers on it and a simple statement, “We will not forget.” My hope for America this Patriot’s Day is that we truly do not forget. We must rehearse to our children and grandchildren who were not here to watch as the story unfolded, nor to hear the stories that came from the moments of horrific fear and incredible bravery, such as “Let’s Roll!” to try to help them feel the depth of the agony and the anger that was ours that day. They must realize, too, the number of young men and women who have given so much of themselves to battle the evil that seeks to destroy our nation. So many families have been torn apart since that fateful day in 2001, but their determination and resilience remains strong.

In the weeks after 9-11, American flags were everywhere. To find a house in a neighborhood that was not flying an American flag was a rarity. Pride in American exceptionalism was high. Much too soon that began to wane and then came eight years of a president who did not believe in American exceptionalism and in many ways, he did not believe in the strength of the American people.

On this Patriot’s Day may we recommit to flying our nation’s colors, reminding ourselves that we are a nation of strength, diversity, of laws that protect and that we are served by some of the best and brightest in self-sacrificing ways through our military and our first-responders. We have a duty to render to them that which they are due. May God bless America and may America bless God…

Not long after I posted this article, I was sitting under the grandstand here at the fair, in the booth where SCI is represented. While I talked with my daughter who has been working with me today, a woman who appeared to be middle-age and not physically well came in and was obviously feeling emotional as she reached out and took both mine and my daughter’s hand, thanking us for displaying the ‘We Shall Never Forget’ 9-11 September 11, 2001 flag. Then she told us how she had been on one of the first in ambulances to the Towers on that day. Her partner perished in the Second Tower, after having helped several out of the First Tower. She related how much it meant to her to see people who cared enough to remember those who served on that day. It was an honor for me to shake her hand and thank her for her service, that I was sad for the loss of her partner and that I hoped the years ahead find her well.

Every 58

Each year, at the time of the National Police Memorial Day, May 15th, first designated by President Kennedy; I attempt to write a short article to encourage those who are part of the ‘thin blue line’ and to perhaps educate or challenge those who are not.

Police officers being killed in the line of duty has a history as deep as the profession itself. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, the first law enforcement officer killed in the United States was Sheriff Cornelius Hogeboom of Hudson, New York. He was shot as he attempted to serve a writ of ejectment; becoming the first known United States law enforcement officer to be killed in the line of duty.

On May 15th 126 new names will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C. Of those 126 officers killed in 2014, three of the fallen officers were female. The average age of a fallen officer was 41, with an average of 12 years of service. Each officer left behind two children on average.
A recent headline read that law enforcement officer  deaths “spiked” in 2014 compared to 2013. There is always a bit of difficulty when looking at facts over a short time frame without the context. The chart below gives a much clearer picture of the number of officers killed recently compared to the history dating back to when President Kennedy inaugurated Police Memorial Day. The early 1970’s were a very difficult time for police and handgun related shootings of officers was very high.Today’s headlines also seem to focus on the number of handgun or firearm related murders of police officers perhaps fueled by the anti-gun lobby. Of course, the bumper-sticker wisdom of “outlaw guns and only outlaws will have guns” can be applied to that type of reasoning.Officers KIA
There are approximately 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. About every 58 hours, one of them dies protecting the citizens they serve. A concerning fact is that in 2014 ambush murders of police was the most deadly form of attack. In many cases the officers had no opportunity to respond or react to their attackers. Every 58 hours or so, a department loses an officer; a husband or wife loses a spouse; a parent loses a child; children lose a mommy or daddy.
Just last week came the news of two officers killed by two ‘career criminals’ in a small town in Mississippi. Killed were  Benjamin Deen, 34, a former “Officer of the Year” in Hattiesburg and Liquori Tate, 25, who grew up in Starkville, 150 miles north of Hattiesburg. Tate was a 2014 graduate of the law enforcement academy. He was known to his friends as “CoCo,” said his stepfather, B. Lonnie Ross of Jackson, adding that Tate was 12 when they met and already wanted to be an officer.’ This young rookie gave everything he had to his calling. May their memories be honored.
This years Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Day on May 15 has a special meaning to me and my family. On May 16th my son, Daniel who is 21 will graduate from the police academy and will then be sworn in as an officer for the department from which I retired as the chief several years back. I have the honor of leading the newly graduated officers in a ceremonial reading of “A Police Officers Prayer”, I will share it with you here:
“When I start my tour of duty, God, wherever crime may be; as I walk the darkened streets alone, let me be close to Thee. Please give me understanding with both the young and old. Let me listen with attention until their story’s told. Never let me make a judgment in a rash or callous way. But let me hold my patience, let each man have his say. Lord if some dark, dreary night, I must give my life; Lord with your everlasting love, protect my family and those in my life.” (Anonymous)

HOMELAND SECURITY ~ The Search Continues

We have a sworn enemy that is out to do us damage and to cost us lives. Always vigilant, always prepared and always on the watchtower.

The TRANSPORTATION SECURITY AGENCY, the brunt of a thousand jokes and the focus of millions of travelers’ frustration continue to focus on getting the job done. In 2012 1,215 firearms were caught in carry on luggage at 199 different airports. Atlanta International airport topped the list with 95 of them. In Providence RI, at the T.F. Green airport one traveler tried to bring a disassembled handgun inside a three stuffed animals! Another pistol was found inside a potted plant. At Grand Junction 6 pounds of black powder along with detonator cord was attempted to be smuggled on board. Two 3.5 oz cans of propane and detonating cord and simulated sheet explosives inside a checked bag  at Norfolk. What is incredible is that over 637.5 million passengers were screened. Coming on board at the Dallas Ft Worth airport a passenger tried to carry on board a live 40 mm high explosive grenade. In the same report came some very strange  potential weapons there was bear mace in a sock, dead venomous snakes, a chastity belt, cane swords, a gassed up chainsaw, a knife mounted on a walker, eels, samurai swords, and a marijuana novelty grenade.

teddy bear gun    A sign in the  lobby of the Fusion Center reads “Today is September 12, 2001” – The idea is that every person who works within the Fusion Center is to work as they did, feeling as they felt on the day after 9-11. It is so incredibly important for all of us to remember that every single day we remain at war. We have a sworn enemy that is out to do us damage and to cost us lives. Always vigilant, always prepared and always on the watchtower.

(Information courtesy of The American Legion Magazine April 2013 and blog.tsa.gov)

A Strong Finish~ My memories of Rev. Ray Payne

Riggs Ministry Minute: When there’s only a minute for ministry

Rev. Ross L. Riggs, D Min.      www.docriggs.com           11 September 2012

It is fitting and proper that this be written today, 9-11; the eleventh anniversary of the tragic and as President Bush labeled it, “evil” attack upon our citizens, our homeland, and our American heroes. From the moment the clarion call was sounded, Rev. Ray Payne, “the cops’ pastor” was on his way to Ground Zero where he would live, night and day for the coming weeks. Ironically, it was probably his time spent ministering to everyone who was working at Ground Zero that eventually the Lord used to bring Ray to glory. I did not say ‘caused him to lose his life’ because in the model or our Savior, Ray willingly gave up his life years before to follow the calling to minister to grieving police families through sharing the grief he carried for his only son who was a police officer, murdered in the line of duty in 1988.

Ray and his lovely wife, Barb, who was his confidante, his best friend, and his partner in ministry, traveled literally hundreds of thousands of miles on a shoestring budget, in an old used car(s), doing whatever it took to get to a police agency that had suffered a line of duty death, to walk through that valley once again with those officers, the spouses, the children, the families of the fallen officer. I believe I can say, without fear of exaggeration, that Rev. Ray Payne ministered to more police officers than any person in history and probably more than we will ever be aware, because of his website and the thousands of pamphlets “Only One Son” that have been translated and sent around the world.

There is no doubt in my mind that when Ray Payne was ushered into His Savior’s presence just a few days ago, he was met by the largest assembly of police officers that heaven itself has ever seen. The angels themselves, I am certain, were in awe of the ministering heart of this mere mortal with super-divine love.

Ray first came my way as our own community said farewell to a police officer killed in the line of duty. But he did not leave after the service, his job complete to move on to the next. Certainly, there were hundreds more to come but he never forgot us. He came back again and again. He spoke to our small church. He rode with the local police. He sat in our backyard and just allowed himself to rest. He grew tired in the last years. The ministry miles and the loads of grief he had born had taken a toll. He never sought recognition for his work; it was his calling, his service to his son. Even at ground zero he didn’t put “Chaplain” on his helmet. He stayed anonymous, just there, if someone wanted to talk.  That was the Ray Payne I knew. Unheralded on earth but I am certain rewarded handsomely in heaven. No doubt the second he finished being held by his Savior, he turned and grabbed his son David and I don’t doubt they are still side-by-side enjoying all that heaven has to offer. When the crowns are received, Ray will happily lay his at the feet of Christ and hear the words of our Savior, “Very, well done, my good and faithful servant.” Ray is model of what the Apostle Paul wrote at the end of his own life, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Rest in peace, my friend. Your watch is over, all secure.

Oh How the Mighty Have Fallen

Dr. Ross L. Riggs, Chief of Police Retired, Louisville Ohio Police Department ~ Director SCI, LLC

National Police Memorial Week – May 15, 2012 –Police Memorial Day

        “O, how the mighty have fallen” – King David cries out, mourning the death of a valiant warrior and   dear friend, Jonathon of the family of Saul. (2 Samuel 1:25) Once again, Americans come together to honor the sacrifices of law enforcement across this great nation. This week around the country and particularly in Washington D.C., near the offices of the U.S. Supreme Court, at the Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial; officers, family and friends will gather to honor the newest ‘inductees’ into this place of tribute. One-hundred and sixty-two names will be on the roll call for those killed in 2011, the third highest year since 2001 and another nearly 200 names for those from previous years whose information was just recovered.

Since 2001, 1,559 officers have been killed in the line of duty. Out of those fifteen hundred plus who have given up their lives, most were either shot or killed in a car crash. Just eight were killed by terrorist attack. Stack that number eight against the seventy-two that were killed in a matter of hours on 9-11-2001 and you see what a difference those who battle against terrorists are making. But whether it is 72, 8 or 1, to the family of that 1 it is a day that changes the lives of their families forever.

Personally, I feel a great sense of duty to those comrades who have fallen and to their families, to not allow anything to tarnish the memory of their sacrifice. I am extremely grateful for all who wage war against terrorists. I believe it is due to their efforts and divine grace that America has ‘only’ 8 terrorism related officer deaths in the decade since 9-11. (The word ‘only’ is used most preciously.)

As we honor all who have sacrificed, and particularly given the ultimate sacrifice, may we, as Americans, re-commit ourselves to do whatever it takes to keep freedom flying here at home and across the globe, wherever men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces serve. Jesus Christ said, “Greater love has no man than this, than he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) The Bible makes it clear that seldom will someone give their life for a good man but how blessed it is when someone gives their life, even for a stranger. That is the evidence of reward for those officers in Christ who have given up their own lives on behalf of someone they never knew and an encouragement to officers, every day as they hit their beat. May God protect you, watch over you and your family and may He bless you, as He proclaimed in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”

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