A Community Memorial -- And A Promise

Jul 29, 2016

At Thursday’s community memorial service for Baton Rouge’s fallen law enforcement officers – Brad Garafalo, Matt Gerald and Montrell Jackson -- Police Chief Carl Dabadie and State Police Commander Mike Edmonson  both spoke of their heroism.

“We gather here in memory of three remarkable men,” Chief Dabadie began. “Their work put them in harm’s way every day, and they chose to serve anyway.”

“They ran to a call where there was a gunman. They ran towards it,” Col. Edmonson said, with admiration. “And when their fellow man was down, they ran towards them.”

Then, he softly added, “I wish I could bring them back.”

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden offered words of comfort for the officers’ families and friends.

“I know from experience that there’s not much that, at this moment, that can help,” Biden said gently. “But I promise you this – the time will come when you think of your son, your husband, your daddy, when it will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye.”

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch had words of encouragement for the community as a whole.

“All of us here today, joined by this collective heartache, we are also joined by our collective humanity. We are a reminder that we find strength turning towards each other, not turning against each other. Baton Rouge has chosen that,” Lynch reminded those assembled. “The state has seen it; the country has seen it. You are the example.”

Several speakers quoted from Ofcr. Montrell Jackson’s final Facebook post,including Sheriff Sid Gautreaux.

“He said, and I quote,’Never let hate infect your heart’.”

Then Jackson’s widow. Trenisha, asked everyone present to live it:

“If you don’t mind, I ask everyone to stand up, raise your right hand, and repeat after me: I…will…not…let…hate…infect…my…heart…”

Word for word, then entire assemblage – Vice President, U.S. Attorney General, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, police and deputies, family, friends and community members –followed her lead, and then applauded  her courage -- and their own vow.