At Holiday Time, Pray for First Responders and Their Families

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The holidays, Christmas and all those throughout the year, are a good time for us to think about not just our first responders but their families, as well.  During the times when most of us are enjoying some of the most valuable and memorable family get-togethers, law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMS providers are often at work.  It goes far beyond just the physical time away, though. 


The recent loss of McFarland Police Officer Ryan Copeland has me thinking about the families of first responders.  I briefly met Officer Copeland’s spouse of 11 years at his funeral.  I can’t possibly understand what she was feeling and thinking at that moment, but it seemed to me that she was still so in shock that she might not even have come to grips with the enormity of the fact that she is now a widow.  The holidays are going to be very difficult for her as she grapples with the loss of the bright future she was expecting to have with her husband. 


I am not sure how military spouses endure the years when their spouse is away serving in harm’s way.  Officer Copeland served for 10 years in the U.S. Army – seven of those in the elite Special Forces Green Berets.  They exist in harm’s way.  His wife and family must have felt so relieved when Ryan arrived home safe from his military duty.  How can it be that they could lose him in a tragic crash after he got home safe from combat duty?


Then I think about the bigger picture, and I wonder how other first responder spouses, parents, children, siblings and others feel when they hear news of an on-duty loss like the death of Officer Copeland.  First responders do dangerous work.  I doubt anyone ever misleads their families about that.  They know that there is a good chance that their loved one will face a dangerous situation every time they leave for a shift.  That must be a very heavy burden when they hear about the loss of someone like Officer Copeland or State Trooper Trevor Casper, who we lost earlier this year. 


As we approach Christmas, I encourage you to think about those families.  If you know the family of a first responder, thank not just the first responder, but also their family members for their service and sacrifice.  Think about saying a prayer that their loved one will get home safely at the end of each shift. 


I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and safe holiday season.