The Rose Will Not Fade

The snow falls across a dark winter sky, the soft white landscape seems to glisten in the night as a single red rose lays still against the granite wall. The wall is long and winds its way through the garden, still and quiet, as if a hush has been brought by the snow, daring any sound to break the silence. That rose rests, nearly frozen, the snow beginning to cover its stem and leaves, the petals sparkle with the moisture of the light touch of snow. It’s December at the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial in Washington D.C. In a few months, spring will have awakened the garden and the sidewalks will be lined with visitors and others preparing for the ceremony to add the names of officers killed in the line of duty in 2019. There is sadness, for certain but to many, this is a place of healing, remembering, honoring but mostly, healing. Thankfully, as we enter the Christmas season, there are less names to add for 2019 than this day in 2018, thirty less. That is wonderful but the 118 names for 2019 are too many and most certainly, the number will rise before 2019 steps aside to allow 2020 to take its place. We can but hope it will be still less than before.

Niall McCarthy wrote an article in 2016 looking at some numbers for law enforcement officers killed. Most recent numbers are not shown in the graph but let’s take a look at his numbers from Forbes Statista.

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If we look at the missing years, we have 2016 is 174, 2017 at 171, 2018 at 158. The method of counting varies from organizations. For example, Mr. McCarthy has 124 for 2015 when the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial shows 162. The high year of 1974 numbers vary by 5 with the NLEOM carrying the higher number.

But it is not the numbers we must recall. Ten more officers lost their lives last year between today’s date and the end of the year. Can we know, of course not and we shouldn’t know what those numbers will be or, more importantly, who will be the persons behind those numbers. For every number there is a face, a family, a loss, a memory, a legacy and that is what we must recall, celebrate and honor.

If you would like to look at the numbers in our nation’s history all the way back to 1786, go to https://nleomf.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Officer-Deaths-by-Year-updated-4-10-2019.pdf As of today, in our history, the number is 21,910. For those more mathematically driven, that is an average of 94 a year. Of course, reporting methods in the 18th and 19th centuries were not accurate, and numbers are still not the story; rather it’s the person whose story fills that number.

The Officers Down Memorial Page offers photos and information on the officers who make up the numbers and statistics for any given year. Go to: https://www.odmp.org/search/year

At the ODMP page you can also see, for example, the 24 K-9’s killed in the line of duty so far this year. The photos and names will not be something you soon forget.

The snow continues to fall and soon the red petals are barely visible through the white snow but as if they are determined, they continue their watch, their duty of honoring those here remembered. Each petal pushes what red it can through the snow to let us know that the flower is still alive, as is the persons whose names are inscrolled upon these marble walls. The rose will never fade as long as we dedicate our lives to remembering and honoring those who have given their lives in the service of their fellow Americans.

As humans we have been endowed by the Creator with an eternal soul, the part of us that is truly us. When all the trappings of this earth and human form are stripped away, that which is us, the soul will continue to live and we pray to laugh and live in the eternal bless that Christ has prepared for those who know Him and who have given their hearts to Him. For those, we need not grieve, they continue to live and love and soon, if we too are followers of Christ, we will be reunited with them. If you do not yet know Him who is eternal life, may I urge you to not let another minute pass by until you do. Remember that between now and December 31, more names will be added to the NLEOMF list and many others who are not tallied each year but will, still, not pass physically into 2020. Do you know your future should your life be asked of you this day or tomorrow? It is much too important to put off yet another day.

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This beautiful young lady posed for this photo shortly after becoming a police officer. Natalie Becky Corona was assassinated while working a patrol duty on January 10, 2019. She had been an officer for 5 months with the Davis Police Department in California. The story of her faith is a blessing to all those who know and love her. Her life may have ended on this earth this past year, but she is alive and living and loving in a heavenly home prepared for her. What a joy it is to know that this life is not the end.

Make this Christmas the merriest of all by beginning your celebration by coming to know the person for whom the day is celebrated!

Merry Christmas to all those who honor us by reading our posts and for all those who pin on any badge to go forth on behalf of your fellow Americans, may God bless you and please stay safe!

Less Red More Blue

In the real world, the world that matters… blue ink is for friends that last a lifetime.

Okay, hold it right there… this is NOT a political post! I am not suddenly espousing the increase in the number of Democrats in office and a reduction in the Republican numbers. I did read an article just the other day, though, about the need to really get a better handle on the titles we use for articles and such. That article claimed that some titles beg you NOT to read any further just by the way it is written. The author called it the “Cookie Sale Planned” type of titles versus the “Headless Body Found in Topless Bar” headline. The latter screams at you to read it (assuming a headless body can scream). The former, not so much. So, if my “Less Red More Blue” got your blood pumping then, good; it did that for which it was contrived.

When I actually do get around to explaining what the title means, I do not want you to think that I have gotten really hard pressed to find a topic upon which to spill some ink. The only thing that prevents me from spilling gallons of ink on articles, that may or may not ever be read, is the amount of time I have for writing undistracted. Right now, it is the wee hours of the morning; the house is quiet and I should be asleep; but my back, knees and hips have allied themselves with my brain in a conspiracy to keep me from ever falling asleep or sleeping for more than sixty minutes at one stretch. When the pain levels are high, my brain goes into overdrive. For example,  just now; while penning this article, I came to realize why they call it the “Wee Hours of the Morning”… because that is when people my age have to get up out of bed to… you know… go wee!  But, I digress.

All of my growing up years, each year around Thanksgiving I would see my Mom begin the ritual of preparing to send Christmas Cards. She had a small semi-formally bound ledge that carried the names of all those to whom she would be sending cards All of the names were carefully recorded in blue ink and there was a place for a series of checks, ‘card sent/card received’. It was a tit for tat ledger. A no card received one year could maybe not get a card sent the next; but, I don’t think my mother ever succumbed to the pettiness that would direct such a reprisal. The book was meticulously kept year after year and when the spaces for checking off sent and received was full, an identical ledger was purchased to continue the tradition for another half decade or so.

There was a second part to this strange tally keeping but, before I divulge it; it behooves me to advise the reader that, so enamored was the world of the 1960’s with such a tradition that. when I met and married my wife she was already indoctrinated in this ritual. She, however, grew up hundreds of miles from where I was in the rural Ohio-transplanted Appalachian world.  In point of fact, even as a product of the counter-culture of the 50’s and 60’s that found its niche in the suburban Washington D.C. area, which was then a solaced area for the intelligentsia, their ledger books were identical to ours in the heartland! Sadly, where my wife grew up is no longer the neighborhoods of the Cleavers or Fred McMurray and his three sons. Now it is all just one more blip on the hydra-snakes of the Washington Metro.

At this point, I must take a very quick sidestep, because I just re-read the first sentence of the last paragraph. I didn’t realize the bees had hooves… I’ll have to think about that one for a bit. (A bit?… no, I won’t go there, bees have enough trouble keeping the Queen happy, I won’t degrade them further by continuing to horse around with this idea.)

The small tan book that was such a focal point of the pre and post holiday season could arguably be considered the 1950’s and 1960’s version of FB ‘Likes’ or to use the 21st Century vernacular, also for those who are ‘Unfriended.’

Amazingly, I must report that my wife and I carried this tradition on in our own home until computers made the little book obsolete. Though I dare say it has probably been secretly kept up just because some things don’t ever end… Like a Lucille Ball/Desi Arnez rerun.

I know it may not seem like it, at this juncture; but, this article does have a point to it that is somewhat serious. The second part of the tradition that my mother and my wife have kept, as well as my wife’s mother and countless others; was to put a red line through those who had deceased. Now, I must go back and correct a misconception I may have given you. Only the name of the person was ever in blue ink; because people were moving regularly in past decades and by writing the address in pencil you could maintain a neat and orderly appearing ledger. For those reading this who were born after 9-11, a pencil is a slender wooden device that has at its core an even more slender piece of lead which is visible through one end of the instrument where the wood has been whittled or shaved down to a point; often homes and certainly classrooms would have a hand cranked device for shaving these pencils down to a point so they were useful for writing. Later, electrical sharpeners became popular which ate pencils at an alarming rate. The opposite end of the device had a small piece of a rubbery, gummy type substance that when rubbed with sufficient pressure against the word or letters written in pencil it would make them invisible. Think of it as a manual ‘delete’ button. However, caution was necessary, for too rapid a rubbing or too strong the pressure used to delete the writing would actually tear a hole in the paper. More than one of my math worksheets looked like Swiss cheese more than like a homework paper. In their earlier form these devices were almost always yellow and had a No. 2 emblazoned on the side. When the world had circumnavigated the sun enough times that school children were now taking tests by shading in small little circles; it was so highly sophisticated that the directions were very specific, “Only a No. 2 Pencil Could be Used.” But, now, allow us to return to our part blue ink, part lead pencil and occasionally a part red ink ledger.

I began to notice that my parents’ ledger was gaining much more red and rather rapidly it seemed. That was not truly the troubling part, because, certainly they were aging and it was expected that many of their compatriots were also aging and eventually dying. What I found troubling was that there was almost no blue entries being added any more. In fact, it seemed that a plateau had somehow been reached and there was no longer any interest, by my parents, for seeking out new blues. It was as if they had filled their blue quota and so, they stopped. Maybe, once in a great while someone would join their church or a new neighbor that actually would reach out and talk to them over the garden wall; even though we did not have a garden nor a wall would be added to the book. Still, there was a barrier there and new neighbors dare not cross. Why was there an aversion to new blues? Certainly, old friends are to be cherished but aren’t new friends an opportunity for growth and life? I’m not advocating for a city block hug-fest or becoming close enough to share one another’s socks; but maybe to get to know someone well enough to send them a Christmas card once a year. (I found that sending Christmas cards twice a year was off-putting to some folks, so I’m looking for a summer holiday that involves snowmen, candy canes and a Jolly Old Elf. I haven’t found one just yet and I have a LOT of cards already made up ready to send!

I don’t know what, in the cyber-world will replace the little tan ledger book with the blue and red ink (and the penciled in addresses); likely it will be some form that auto-fills in all the spaces and immediately corrects to a new address because there is a hyper link to the U.S. Postal Service to update the addresses whenever you click on the name. It may have an automated e-send for a holiday greeting of your choice so you don’t even have to sign the card, lick all those envelopes and put on those stamps with the snowmen and candy canes and elves. It will probably also include an instant family photo update from the year previous! Perhaps, too , with a link to the U.S. Census database, it can auto-redline for you all those that you didn’t even realize had died that year because you never saw them in a text message or an FB post. But, one thing it cannot do, no matter what… regardless of the number of LIKES you get on FB, is add in the real blue inked names. In the FB world, I suppose even the names would be in pencil because they can be written off with the click of a mouse. But in the real world, the world that matters…. blue ink is for friends that last a lifetime.

Keeping Christmas Well

“…even after seeing and speaking with his former partner Jacob Marley wrapped in the chains that he forged in this life; Scrooge dismisses it as ‘…an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave…”‘

Dr. Ross L. Riggs – True North Ministry

As the Christmas season begins ts slip int the realm of ‘Christmas Past’, I sit by the warmth of a wood fire. I’m wearing my favorite slippers, an over-sized knit sweater, covered with a new blanket in support of the 1-325th Airborne Infantry Regiment Red Falcons to which my son is attached, and I’m  in my extra comfortable leather swivel, rocker recliner that is worn-in exactly in all the right places to make ‘Dad’s Chair’ the icon of the family living room. As a kid I never quite understood why there was a ‘Dad’s Chair’ that, whenever he was home, if you were in it and he headed your way; no comment, no explanation, no inquiry, – you just got up and gave hm his chair. Certainly it was, for us, a matter of respect for our father, (also, in part, a desire to make it to our next birthday, but mostly respect). Now I know. If your home is your castle, you might have other ‘thrones’ but there is only one from which the anointed head of the family, the patriarch of the clan reigned and issued from this place a thousand, “Go ask your mother” rulings. But I digress. The spirit of the season for me has always included the reading of Luke chapter 2 which we read at least once or twice through out our time together with a strong emphasis on the birth of our Savior. He came to face the cross and teach us how to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and might and to love each other even as we love ourselves.

When it comes to Christmas movies, in a close tie with each other for their own ranking on my Christmas list are two classics, White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye is a must see. Then, there are several different versions of my next favorite, including the 1939 classic, A Christmas Carol  with the infamous Scrooge. Many stars have taken on that role, even Patrick Stewart who also played Jean Luc Picard in Star Trek and King Richard in History of the World Part II – a cameo role but still played so well, (if an English King Richard can have an accent that is a cross between Scottish, Irish and East-side Chicago.) Scrooge was also once played so very well by a super star in his own right, Mr. Magoo. In all of the movie, the part that, as a child, perhaps was most terrifying and leading to  nightmares, (encouraged by my two older brothers) was the transformation of Scrooge’s door knocker to the face of Jacob Marley. This was spookier to me than even the pointing bony finger of the Ghost of  Jacob Marley - The Christmas Carol

 Christmas Yet to Come driving Scrooge to see his own name engraved into the headstone. That image, slowly taking shape into that door knocker and then its mournful plea which, even after seeing and speaking with his former partner Jacob Marley wrapped in the chains that he forged in this life; Scrooge dismisses it as “ …an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave…”¹

The narrator shares with us at the end that Scrooge “…knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.” ²

Now that Christmas 2013 is, as the sports announcers say, in the record book; how do we propose to keep Christmas well until it shows itself anew in the coming year or until Christ has come to make manifest His kingdom  in His 1,000 year reign from Jerusalem? (I wonder how Christmas might be celebrated then?) There is something special about the heart of innocence that lends itself to grasping hold of the true meaning of Christmas. This was our first year with six grandchildren, Emelia Rose joined us for the first time this year. It was watching the grandchildren at Christmas and then the statements of Aaron and Allyson that brought me to the ‘ah-ha’ moment where my brain tells the rest of me that I have just heard something incredible!

I know that folks tire of grandparents bragging on their grandchildren and I don’t intend to tell you that my amazing, incredible, and practically preferable in all ways grandchildren, numbers 1-6, (since I cannot keep their names straight, I’m planning on issuing them numbers) are amazing, incredible or practically preferable in all ways. However, it was the heartfelt love and their genuine desire to put someone above themselves is what so drastically caught my attention.

My wife and I had spent Christmas Eve night at Dave’s and Suzanne’s home and when Christmas morning came it was a time of great anticipation and for the grandkids, a release of every pent-up wonder that is so magical with kids at Christmas. As I sat watching the first moments of the scene unfold, Aaron, my oldest grandchild who is 7 came bolting toward me with a most excited voice!  “Papaw, Papaw, I got my wish! I got my wish!” Thinking some prize toy had been found under the tree, I asked him what it was. He replied with as much excitement as I have seen any child at Christmas, “Santa brought my dad the back massager for his chair that I asked for; because my dad’s back hurts him a lot!” You could have soaked up my heart with a sponge because it melted right there on the spot. But my lesson was not yet complete from the Spirit of Christmas Present!

As I recovered from my first lesson, I watched as an equally excited Allyson went straight for her Mom to exclaim, “He did it! Santa came into my room and got it!” I needed to know the answer on this one!  Suzanne explained that Allyson had a favorite stuffed animal, a pink ‘Nemo’ fish. It apparently had a small spot of  ink on it and Allyson had written a note to Santa to ask him to please take the fish with him back to his workshop and ‘fix’ it… are you ready, so that Santa could then give that fish to a small child who really needs it!

Did I mention that Aaron and Allyson are 7 and 6 years old? Yes, at times they pick on each other as siblings often do. I can remember admonishing my children when they were youngsters and fighting between themselves to “Pretend you love each other!” So there are plenty of normal events with Aaron and Allyson but, if ever there was a set of shining examples as to how to Keep Christmas wellI believe that it is with carrying just these types of attitudes all the year. Some of us need to know how  to get such an attitude of love in the first place. I will tell you that it does not come naturally. It is, however, a gift. At this Christmas season and throughout the year, you can find the answers you seek in God’s Word. If you  don’t know who to ask; drop us a note and we will be glad to help. You can find us at

May the New Year find you grateful for the year that has passed, anticipating the year that is ahead and knowing that through every day, God is holding you in His hands, knowing the end from the beginning and every day in between. And as Tiny Tim was known to say, “God bless us, every one!”³

¹http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/3097440-a-christmascarol

²http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/3097440-a-christmascarol

³http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/3097440-a-christmascarol