Don’t wait until time of need to give thanks

Published 10:09 am Friday, May 15, 2015

Editor’s note: This is taken from a speech Cathy Whitt delivered in Virginia Beach. We reprint it with permission in honor of National Police Officer’s Week.

by Cathy Whitt

Today, I am here to honor all the men and women who suit up in blue every day. Also, not to just honor and thank my hero, but all law enforcement who are heroes in their own right. I’m not here to say what these men and women do make jobs of others any less important or dangerous, or that my role as a law enforcement officer spouse makes my status more important than anyone else’s.

There is so much more about the uniform and character of these men and women that you might not understand. And, you should know if you don’t, and be aware if you’re not. Today is not about oil field workers or coal miners or the other countless others who are in harm’s way just by going to work everyday. I have no personal account about that which I don’t know, just as I can’t speak for the families of our troops whose daily sacrifices far outweigh that of which the majority of us can comprehend. And, to whom we could never express enough gratitude.

Today is not a discussion about good or bad. We want this to be a positive, uplifting of voices for encouragement, respect and support for all law enforcement and their families.

The facts remain, whether you like and support them or hate them, somewhere sometime everyone will make that call to 911. And if you are one of those who hate and consider them the enemy, you are still the first one to expect them to be there to assist you. And you know what? They will stand tall and be there in your time of need.

Being a law enforcement officer’s wife is an interesting life to say the least. Our days begin and end around a shift we cannot control. We learn to have dinner ready at 7 a.m. or breakfast at 2 p.m. And you better know how to heat and reheat without it drying out.

A simple traffic stop can turn into much more that leads to extra hours of paper work. But, your little one’s birthday part must still go on. And that baseball practice won’t wait. We put our kids to bed many nights alone explaining that yes daddy or mommy loves you and will kiss you when they get home.

And when you go to bed you sleep with one eye on the clock, and listening for that key in the door. You learn not to ask about their day. When they are ready they will tell you. You can’t take it personally, and it does not mean they don’t care. It’s his or her way of protecting you from the horrors of their job. Being frustrated is normal and you learn to understand, but resentment and anger are not options.

There is a reason a law enforcement officer has chosen this profession with low pay, horrible hours, immense stress and a huge potential for danger. It is their calling; their desire to help those who are weak; those who are in need; to maybe make a difference.

They need our support and respect for the continual compromises and sacrifices they make. And as a spouse we put them first. Not out of a sense of duty or control, but out of love for all he or she faces each time they walk out the door.

Frustrating? Absolutely. Disappointing? Always. But sending them out there knowing you are angry or sad? Never. You just hold that thought, say, “I love you,” and give them a kiss. Then you say a little prayer they make it home after their shift, so you can yell at them later. You see we are only human, and we want what everyone wants, but we learn to see the bigger picture — but our picture includes that big thin blue line.

In closing let me leave you with this. I can’t remember the last time I wished for something for just myself. Instead I wish for my “Us.” I wish for no radios or pages; no phones ringing in the night. I wish for alone time and quiet moments of peace. I pray for certainty of tomorrow and growing old together. Of course no one has that guarantee, but sometimes for spouses of law enforcement that seems so constantly unattainable.

Many times I am asked why I chose this life, and if I had to do it over again would I? Hmmm. Would I? The answer is 100 percent yes. I married a man with a kind heart who makes me feel special and safe. And when it counts the most will always be there for me. He is my best friend who just happens to wear a badge over his heart and a gun on his hip. I knew what I was getting into, and I would not change a thing.

Just remember please, these men and women are husbands and wives; sons and daughters; moms and dads; your neighbor down the street; the coach for the local playground. They try to do their best under the worst circumstances to keep us all safe. Don’t wait until they have to come to you in your hour of need to thank them, do it today and always.

Many thanks to all who kindly show your support. And to all of the men and women of law enforcement past, present and future, I’ll leave the blue light on, always.

Thank you, God bless you, and come home safe.

CATHY WHITT is the wife of Franklin Police Department Captain Tim Whitt. She wrote this speech in honor of National Police Week. It coincides with Peace Officers Memorial Day, which is today, May 15.