“There is a saying in Tibetan, 'Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.' No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that's our real disaster.” Dalai Lama
Most of America can remember where they were on 9/11 when they first heard about the twin towers. Most of Baton Rouge (and surrounding communities) can remember where they were when they first heard about the police ambush that took place 1 year ago today. I was in California. At the time, I was separated from the tragedy by 2500 miles so, while sad, I felt distanced from it all. It wasn't until I got back to LA that I realized I had a connection to one of the officers who was killed- Brad Garafola. I had taught his son. His daughter goes to school with P. His inlaws go to church with us. As I started putting the pieces together, I began to mourn the loss of these heroes. The men who went to work to protect the community, while providing for their families.
I remember the heightened tension throughout the area. I didn't want to drive down Airline Hwy, a common thoroughfare through town, unless absolutely necessary because that's where the ambush took place. As the heat began to rise, protests took place. More police ambush throughout the country took place. And more Christians began to pray for our nation, our police officers.
I can't imagine what these police families have been through this past year. I have become friends with Brad's mother in law and once in awhile she'll open up to me. She'll confide in me how she's feeling about losing her beloved son in law, how it's strained her relationship with her daughter. I can't imagine the "firsts" these families went through for the past 365 days. The "what-ifs". So much was lost last Summer- from the ambush to the flood, it was a difficult time for the BR area.
Some good has come from this tragedy. One police was severely wounded- 3 shots to his head, abdomen and shoulder. He has been fighting through a long journey of recovering for the past year. His parents were told he wouldn't live past 5 days, 21 days at most (by a miracle). A couple months ago he said his first word ("Hello") and he used his legs for the first time not long afterwards. Through it all, his dad has become a prayer warrior, has re-established his walk with the Lord. He is also using social media to witness to tens of thousands who follow his son's progress.
So, a year after the ambush, it's important to not lose hope. It's important to pray for our police heroes. It's important to honor those who have fallen in the line of duty. It's important to never forget, yet remain strong.
Thank you to those who put their lives on the line every day, to protect communities around the world.