Thankful for a Thankless Job

By Stephen Owsinski

Despite having to leave my family gatherings around the table, I was always thankful to be out there doing the job, especially on Thanksgiving Day. Throughout my police career, I worked every single turkey day. Annual squad changes and respective scheduling for duty cycles somehow panned out that way. Don’t get me wrong: I never went without turkey and accompanying fixings. In fact, I had enough turkey legs to make any portly king quite jel. Citizens have huge hearts—most of ‘em, anyway.

For whatever reason brought me, an on-duty policeman, to their house, folks generally offered heartfelt sentiments along the lines of Oh, you’re working on Thanksgiving or So, your family is at home waiting on you or I hope today is quiet for you. Yes…to all those things. And I forgave those who uttered the q-word, for they do not know the lore around that word and those who strive to keep law and order.

Now, no longer on the job, I am equally thankful to all the law enforcement officers who courageously took hold of the reins. For they have it more arduous; today’s acidic political climate searing every spec of police protocol and its professional culture is unrelenting. It would seem the word gratitude is no longer among the vocabulary of a many among us—you know, the anti-cop sorts. From stalwart supporters, however, there is praise for blue lives trying to accomplish a seemingly impossible job, holiday notwithstanding.

Nevertheless, cops do not enter the police profession for glory and gratitude and turkey legs—some may argue that last part but I don’t wanna talk about it, thank you. Nope, the proverbial mantras —it’s a calling; it’s a way to help the community’ I want to make a difference— galvanize the lifeblood of a nation’s citizens in a robust society whose covenant of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is continuously accessible…thanks to guys and gals who pin iconic shields representing American values.

Those same guys and gals have families hovering over fresh-cooked meals while harboring consternation for their police-blooded loved ones ensuring happiness for families who embrace/offer good will…mindful of those who do not. Cops are not naïve at all; can’t really afford to be. The police mindset around the major holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas is not (cannot be) anything other than duty-bound and warrior-ready. Lives of cops and citizens in harm’s way depend on those hardcore yet necessary attributes.

When I think of that from a citizen’s lens, I am astounded by the selfless magnitude of today’s police forces and the lengths to which these law enforcers go to see the mission to the very end. Starkly reflective of that hatemongering, anti-police demographic, sometimes the very end equates to fatalistic heights…the self-sacrifice which is quite known despite tacit acknowledgement superseding sworn oaths.

From a retired policeman’s perspective, I am fulfilled to have played an imperative role in the American way of life. Although backing down the driveway in a police cruiser on holidays while my children watched and catered somberness, reminiscence affords me great reflections regarding indelible years of my life, a life dedicated to tending to the needs of others which, in effect, satiated my own. A proverbial win-win. Yet, the scars of segueing from my family to do good nonetheless remain; I trust my kids, with maturation into adulthood, will reflect on the good and not so much the somberness of their dad’s chronic absence. I do not deny the pain from this particular recurring sacrifice, one among the bevy entailing police work.

Two online friends, Marc and Angel, operate a human psychology and self-awareness site ripe with useful nuggets of positivity such as the following related to gratitude: “Truly, the richest human isn’t the one who has the most, but the one who needs less. Wealth is a mindset. Want less and appreciate more today. And remember, the best time to focus on being grateful is when you don’t feel like it. Because that’s when doing so can make the biggest difference” in someone’s life…and yours.

Especially to those on duty during the Thanksgiving holiday, sacrificing their family time so that other families can revel together…you are highly appreciated for being out there in your respective jurisdiction. I am but one voice, yet I know of legions who echo the respect and adoration you deserve, and that in and of itself is a banquet to behold.

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