Sitting in the audience, I try not to hold my breath. After what seems like forever they enter. Applause fills my ears, people stand. The applause fades awkwardly, no one really understands how long it takes for everyone to file in. We’re all still standing, those last few people won’t stop clapping. Finally, a reprieve, we’re instructed to sit.
Such a major moment. A change for every person there. No one will be left completely unaffected. Some will be impacted more, some less, but all will be changed by what is happening.
The names ring out one at a time, in alphabetical order, into the silence. Applause, an awkward handshake, and the smiling embrace of family. The pride is oozing out of every pore of the room. Finally, they are reminded – pin on first and then take your pictures.
It’s the next step in our lives. The camera flashes. Don’t forget to smile. But don’t share. You can’t share. It isn’t safe.
Finally it’s his turn. Up I go, with his parents behind. I take the badge from his hand. “I love you,” I whisper, “and I’m so proud of you.” He smiles. I drop the badge in place, kiss him, and turn to smile for the flash of the camera.
Emotions wash over me. Then and now. I’m so proud. I’m so scared. He hasn’t chosen an easy path, but we will live it together.
Eventually, they are all pinned. They march back to the front. Take the oath. Take another. There are smiles. There are tears. There is purpose. At the end, a reminder – there’s still more time to be paid. They aren’t done yet.
A time to celebrate. A time to enjoy. A time to keep moving forward. A time that you can’t share with everyone. A choice that not everyone will understand.
Outside, after, we mill about. Families are chattering. Pictures are taken. We pose with our dearest friends and text each other the pictures. No facebook, no twitter, no social media.
I am so proud of him for his choice to be in law enforcement. I know that the popular opinion is rather anti-police at the moment. It scares me more than I like to admit that he’s going into this field. But we need more people like him. More who believe that justice is something everyone deserves. More who will do what is right when no one else will. The pride, the love, will help us live through the fear.