What does it mean to be a hero?
Being a hero means spending one’s day protecting a group’s right to exercise free speech, even as they protest against the very people protecting them.
Being a hero means running towards crises, sprinting into action as gunfire shatters a calm day, screams echo through the air, and instincts urge running away.
Being a hero means being willing to sacrifice one’s own life to protect complete strangers.
Everyday, police officers prove themselves to be the heroes we need. They put the security of others first and answer a higher call even as much of our society vilifies them. But the greatness of a person is not defined by popularity or the opinions of others. The greatness of a person is defined by his or her willingness to answer calls to action even with the knowledge that there shall be no reward or positive recognition. President Obama has said that “the maintenance of [the] law is a hard and daily labor,” and it is the officers of this nation that put in this labor. We take for granted the safety of our neighborhoods and absent-mindedly dismiss the true meaning of a police siren. These sounds are the anthems of our freedom, for liberty without law is chaos and anarchy.
Our police officers deserve this nation’s endless praise, which is unfortunately absent in this day in age. It is disgusting that respect for police officers has declined so dramatically in recent years.
Over the past few years, groups have emerged which actively seek to stir up racial divisions. They build up antipathy between fellow Americans and attempt to discredit whole institutions on the backs of isolated events.
Are there racist people in this world? Yes. And unfortunately it may be impossible to ever completely destroy racism itself.
But this country has destroyed de jure, institutionalized racism. The greatness of our country was proven as our institutions purged themselves of laws plagued by this evil.
We, as Americans, have the civic duty to consistently question the people in which we invest authority–but this questioning must be built off of an inherent trust for the institutions; unless the people of this nation can question a person without breaking down faith in the institutions themselves, the stability of our laws will be undermined.
Whether each, or any, of the recent spate of widely publicized shootings were driven by racism is a question that demands an answer. But ours is a society built upon laws and not men. Justice is dispensed blindly. And the day we allow any group to hold our laws and our officers hostage, our judicial institutions will lose all legitimacy. We will no longer be a nation built upon the indestructible foundation of liberty tempered by order. We will have given up the rule of law for the rule of man, and when this occurs, so too will the destruction of our nation. The establishment of order and the protection of our liberties come hand-in-hand. One cannot exist without the other, for as Theodore Roosevelt once exclaimed, “order without liberty and liberty without order are equally destructive.” Our police officers maintain this balance, and for that they deserve our respect and honor.