Fallen Officers Honored at 2016 Memorial Service
May 18, 2016
The Andrew Jackson Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police today held its annual memorial service for the 44 law enforcement professionals who lost their lives in service to Nashville since 1875.
Chief Steve Anderson was a keynote speaker. Here is the text of his remarks:
As we gather here each year to celebrate the lives of these men and women who served our community, we naturally look to that time they left us. The last time we saw them. The last time we talked to them.
But, as we remember them, we often have thoughts about the present and the future. What would they be doing today? How would they have impacted the lives of those around them? What would their future be?
I think that is a natural thing to do. I think it is a good thing to do.
From time to time I think about James Harold Prince. You don’t know James. He left us more than 50 years ago.
I went to high school with James. We had classes together. We shared a hallway locker. We also worked together at the drive-in theater. We would cook hamburgers till midnight and then go to a drive in restaurant to eat hamburgers.
James was not your typical high school senior. He was kind, thoughtful and mature beyond his years. Most of the money he made at the drive-in went to help support his family. I don’t remember James’ name ever being called out on the intercom to report for those early morning visits to the superintendent’s office. There were other students who got that call on a regular basis.
James was a good influence on me. It is doubtful that I was a good influence on James.
James didn’t drive fast or engage in other dangerous activities that, maybe, some of his classmates did. Yet, it was James that died in an automobile crash on a November Saturday afternoon.
When I think about James I have no way of knowing exactly where he would be today. No way of knowing what he would have accomplished. But I do know that he was a good person and a good son. I do know that he would have been a good husband and a good father. I do know that wherever he would have been today, he would have had the respect of those around him.
That is who he was and that is who he would have been.
There is another classmate, from my police academy graduating class, who was taken from us 20 years ago, yesterday. I cannot say enough good things about Paul Scurry. I am certain that if Paul was with us today I would have even more respect and admiration for him.
That is the person Paul was—that is the person Paul would have continued to be.
I know that there are similar thoughts and questions in the minds of many here today. The loss of these men and women came unexpectedly and without warning. Their life here on earth ended.
But I know that in your minds they still live on--but often with those questions:
· Where would they have been today?
· What would they have accomplished?
· What would have been their impact on the lives of others?
I think you know the answer to those questions. They were all good men and women. Different as individuals--but in all ways good people who died serving this city.
They would have continued being the good people we knew and their lives would have touched us in many ways.
These are good thoughts to have. In our minds, they live on forever.
In our conversation last year, we talked about Mark Ruffalo, an accomplished actor. You remember him, among other roles, he played the Incredible Hulk. Although coping with the tragic death of a brother he was very close to, he has put his life back together. He is a good husband, a good father and an Academy Award nominated actor.
When asked how he has made peace with the death of a brother who was so much a part of his life, Ruffalo acknowledged that he had not.
He said, “You just live alongside it.”
I think what Mark Ruffalo is telling us is that he is not leaving his brother behind. He takes his brother along with him every day of his life.
I am sure he has those memories of the past, just like you and me. But along with those memories from the past, I suspect that he has thoughts about what his brother’s life would have continued to be.
I suspect that those are good thoughts--because his brother is right there alongside him.
Remembering and celebrating the lives of these men and women take me back to the words of the Reverend Monsignor Creary as he closed the funeral services for Officer Michael Petrina in May of 2014.
The Monsignor said:
Take time to recall the happy moments you shared with Michael. And if those happy moments are tinged with sadness and a longing to recapture the past, acknowledge that longing as part of that love. If those happy memories are touched with humor, do not hesitate to laugh heartily and laugh again. Humor is a powerful source of healing.
And let us surrender the past with gratitude and embrace the present moments, so that the future may be nourished by these happy moments.
I know that everyone here today who knew Michael Petrina will carry those thoughts with you forever.
I try to follow the advice of the Monsignor. I hope you will as well.
Let us keep each of these men and women a part of our lives, forever. Remembering the past—but keeping them with us into the future.
A special thank you to the Nash family, Bob and Barb. You are always here to support us. Andrew is proud of you.
Thank you to the congregation of the First Baptist Church for being our host today. I am grateful to be a part of a police department that enjoys such community support.
It has been an honor to be with you today. Thank you.