Once each year, on Memorial Day, Americans pause to remember members of its military who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in order to provide us the freedoms that we enjoy today.
With few exceptions, those military men and women have fought on foreign shores in order to preserve our freedom here at home. And, for that, they deserve all the praise and recognition we can give them.
As individuals, we often forget, however, to pause a few weeks prior to Memorial Day to recognize National Law Enforcement Week. It is this week — May 13 to 19 this year — that Americans should pause and remember the men and women who have given their lives on the streets and highways of this country in order to make them safe for us to walk and drive.
Luckily, the Grundy County Law Enforcement Managers Association does not forget.
Each year, the organization makes it possible for our communities to pause and remember not only the two members of the Morris Police Department who gave their lives years ago, but also two area firefighters who died in the line of duty in more recent days.
And while the focus of that annual ceremony — which was held Thursday at the Grundy County Courthouse — is remembering the fallen, it is clear from events big and small in recent days and weeks that the sacrifices we remember also serve as a reminder to those who protect our streets and highways today.
Marshall Enoch T. Hopkins and Morris Patrolman Clarence R. Roseland were both fatally shot in the line of duty. Hopkins, in 1878, and Roseland in 1935.
Speaking specifically of Roseland, but with a sentiment that described them both, Morris Police Chief Brent Dite noted during Thursday’s ceremony that, “He performed his duties without reservation. That ultimately cost him his life.”
That ultimate cost could be a reality any time a police officer puts on the uniform. Yet, police officers and sheriff’s deputies and state troopers do so daily, and continually — without reservation — enter some of the most-dangerous situations possible to protect the citizens of this county and country.
In recent days, there have been reports of domestic violence situations and an incident that resulted in a school and a daycare center being locked down temporarily. In both situations, police were there to perform their duties — undoubtedly with a nod toward Hopkins, Roseland and all their fellow officers who have come before them.
Fortunately for each of us, the same is true of firefighters, paramedics and other first responders.
On Thursday, they remembered Morris Firefighter James K. Allen, who died while fighting a house fire, and Channahon Firefighter Kenneth J. Frayne, who drowned during dive training a few years ago.
Like Hopkins and Roseland, these men entered willingly into dangerous situations for the public good and paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Like Allen and Frayne, local firefighters still battle dangerous, roaring house fires like the one that followed an explosion on Barrington Road back in February. They still tether themselves to something solid and wander out into swift moving flood waters to rescue motorists stranded on the roof of their car, as was the case for two Minooka firefighters during the April flood.
And, fortunately for each of us, they do so without thought for their own safety, following in the selfless pattern set by Allen and Frayne, both of whom did what they needed to do without question, without thought of the unspeakable result.
As unspeakable and unfathomable as the deaths of not only Allen and Frayne, but also Hopkins and Roseland, remain to be, it is fitting and proper that we pause each year to speak of the unspeakable, to try to fathom the unfathomable.
It is, after all, in remembering their sacrifices, that we are reminded of why our emergency workers continue to do what they regularly do.
The Morris Daily Herald’s editorial decisions are made by an editorial board lead by General Manager Bob Wall and editors Patrick Graziano and Mark Malone. Decisions are made in consultation with other members of the MDH staff as appropriate.