Yesterday Chief and I attended the funeral of Deputy Dennis Wallace from Stanislaus County, California. He was the latest officer from California to be executed by gunfire. I’ve been to many line-of-duty funerals in my 28 years with Chief, and this was the second police funeral I attended this month.
If you’ve been following the 40 Days of Gratitude campaign on this page, you may have noticed that I’ve shared some difficult days. When protests turn to riots, another brother or sister is laid to rest, our family time is cut into, our officers show signs of wear, and the media spreads the filth of hate and anarchy, discouragement and fear sets in. I’ve heard from many of you that this is the case for you, too.
But yesterday I rode with Chief in the processional from the service to the gravesite for the first time. It floored me.
The quiet majority came out and were anything but silent. I’d never seen such support from a community. Signs of support (not one middle finger!). Blue line flags that hung from houses and vehicles and people. Blue ribbons tied to telephone poles and trees and fences. Blue balloons adorned the schools. People dressed in blue T-shirts waving American flags. People of all ages, colors, occupations, socio-economic status’. We saw farmers, orange-vested men in hard hats, store owners, office staff, veterans from several wars, and families who may or may not be here legally. There were babies with their mommas, sons and dads with their hands over their hearts. Women crying. A man standing at attention with a blue ribbon tied to the grill of his completely restored pickup from the 50s. Seniors in wheelchairs. Teenagers. Smiling people without teeth. Firemen saluting on top of their engines at every turn. Older men with hands over their hearts with jaws tight. Young men with their pants hanging low. Pretty sure I saw a tweaker or two. We drove by the schools where Deputy Wallace was particularly involved, and school children by the dozens chaperoned by parents and teachers crowded the streets. Messages of admiration lined the chain-link fences. Thank you notes, tears, and waving. Helicopters and planes flew overhead, and those in the processional could not help but turn on their sirens in thanks as we passed by.
This is small town Northern California! There were hundreds of people, perhaps even thousands. And they were there to honor the life and sacrifice of Deputy Wallace, to show their support for his family, and all law enforcement.
It gave me hope.
Because even though there are those who are protesting, and rioting, and wreaking havoc and hate toward the Thin Blue Line, there are thousands who support peace officers, and do not support the violence, nor the sentiments that are so inflamed by the media. We’re not as alone as we thought.
Deputy Wallace was one of those officers who went the extra mile on the job—with kids in particular. In the service we listened to testimony of his commitment to young people, and the difference it made in the lives of many. His integrity and passion for his community built bridges between officers and those arrested. Adults and children. Life and death. And even though there were many colors that were present, race was not even mentioned. Not once.
I was reminded of the power of one. Just one officer made an incredible difference in the lives of this community. And there are countless officers who are doing the same.
I was reminded that we are America. Land of the free, home of the brave. There is hope here.
So today, Day 38 of 40 Days of Gratitude, I am grateful for hope. Thank you Modesto, and in particular, Hughson, for your voice. You spoke for the silent majority across the nation. We as police families are so thankful.