Tomorrow, you will wake up in frustration that your alarm is ringing, perhaps feeling angry or flustered -- but rejoice, for you are awake & you are alive. You will fight traffic on your way to work & become agitated with the lack of driving skills among others on the road -- but be grateful, for you are alive. You will work your entire eight-hour shift, never once considering that you could die today, by your own fault or at the mercy of another human’s hands -- so give thanks for every moment you take a breath. You woke up today. You are alive. You can hold the people that you love.
You see the trending topics of officers killed in the line of duty, but never think it will happen to you. You see violence at a daily rate in the news, but never think it will happen in your own backyard. You read about the death of one person today, but by tomorrow, you will have forgotten his name. Loss of life, in any manner, is to be mourned. Remembered.
Although no longer employed by Howard County, Indiana, I know those people. Those Police Officers, Sheriff’s Deputies, Probation Officers, Clerks, & support staff. I walked the same halls in the Criminal Justice Center & in the Courthouse. I see the familiar faces, now plastered on Indiana & national media outlets, of former coworkers, & I recognize the faces of those people in the background. I think it to be quite strange to experience such grief from over one thousand miles away. I see displays on Facebook of blue ribbons, blue porch lights, & blue streamers, remembering the life of Deputy Carl A. Koontz that simultaneously celebrates the survival of Sgt. Jordan J. Buckley.
I cannot help but think that all lives matter. While mourning the loss of Deputy Koontz, I imagine the gratitude experienced by Sgt. Buckley & his family. Then I begin to think about the man responsible for the entire debacle. He no longer has to live with himself, because he took his own life. His family grieves for the decisions he made that led to his criminality, they grieve for his death, & how they must grieve for these officers & community. We are so tender, but we are angry too. Confused. Disgusted. I have seen such nasty remarks made about this man, but I still stand by the statement that all lives matter. Everyone involved was given the opportunity to live, but because of one man, two lives were taken that morning.
On Monday, March 21, 2016 at 11:10 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, a moment of silence was held in honor of the life of Deputy Koontz, which marked the first full 24 hour period since his passing. I was still in my sweatpants, preparing for my morning routine, when I closed my bedroom door at 9:10 A.M. Mountain Standard Time to pray for this man’s family & community. I thought about his wife, Kassie, & their son, Noah. I prayed for peace & healing over their lives. As I was being overwhelmed by the extent of their loss, I could hear my roommate’s daughter, Ava, on Facetime with her father, who is currently deployed in Iraq with the United States Army.
I wept, because a man across the globe, fighting in an actual war, is safer than law enforcement in our own country.
Noah will never know his father, he will only have photographs. He won’t remember the sound of his father’s voice, or the scent of his father’s skin... the simplistic parts of being human that we take for granted, the familiar connections we all have to people we love, were stolen from this infant boy by one man’s actions. This is not just happening in the Howard County community, this is happening across the nation. A war is taking place on our own soil against the very people who vowed to protect it... when will the killing of heroes end? Will it ever end?
I watched all of the press conferences & video clips on the news, my senses keen to the event, yet my mind continued to race & question whether this was actually happening in my hometown. I listened to Sheriff Rogers & I watched his expression evolve throughout the announcement of Deputy Koontz’s passing. My friends & my community are all mourning... but the strength they have despite this incident has filled me with hope.
To see the outpouring of love & support from people across an entire nation is indescribable. I watched the processional of officers bringing our hero home from Indianapolis & I was overwhelmed with grief & gratitude simultaneously. Normally, watching these fallen-hero-processional videos online were those of complete strangers, whose names & faces would not even make me blink. This time was different, as I could recognized the highways, the streets, & the people in the videos. This was my community just one year ago. These were my city streets just one year ago.
All of these questions that cannot be answered... yet I ask, When will the violence stop. Violence against police, against citizens, & against humanity? Please, stop categorizing people based on their skin color, religion, profession, or political views. Death is death. Neither Jesus nor the Devil care where you were born, the shade of your body, how you made your living, or who you are voting for in the upcoming election -- they are only concerned with the condition of your heart.
Examine yourselves. How are you working through your hatred towards the individual responsible for this heinous act against law enforcement, in both your local community & in those communities across the nation? Are you letting it grow exponentially? Consider the power of forgiveness. You do not necessarily need to forgive today or tomorrow, but wrestle with the power of that word over your life. Do you ever wonder how Donald Trump achieved such an extreme following? He is feeding the beast of hatred that lives within so many of us in America & people are eating it like candy.
I have hope, because I know the Father that I serve. I know that one day, this world is coming to an end. I do not know when that day will come, but I am confident that day is on the horizon. From terrorist attacks in Brussels, to the murder of law enforcement officers in America, the hatred is real, intense, & terrifying. I am not only praying for my community back home, I am praying for the entire globe of people & their hearts. This senseless, tragic incident in Russiaville, Indiana only sheds additional light on the condition of our country.
We could all die on our drive to work in the morning, but understand that men & women across the nation wake up, wear the badge, & go to work with targets on their backs. I know there are “bad cops”, but there are also bad cashiers, waitstaff, & criminals. Why are we killing the people who swore an oath of protecting you. The same people who want our officers dead -- those officers swore to protect even you. I am pleading, stop this madness. God bless our law enforcement & God bless America.
Megan Elizabeth is a storyteller based in Kalispell, Montana. Take a peek at her blog & portfolio, drop her a line, & follow her story on Facebook & Instagram.