Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Escort

It was many decades ago when I first joined the police department, I knew there would be special occasions my family would spend without me. Knowing that fact didn't make the task any easier. The celebrations I missed that first year depressed me and sometimes made me feel bitter. Working on Christmas Eve was always the worst.

On Christmas Eve years ago, I learned that blessings can come disguised as misfortune, and honor is more than just a word.

I was riding one man patrol on the 4-12 shift. The night was cold. Everywhere I looked I saw reminders of the holiday: families packing their cars with presents, beautifully decorated trees in living room windows and roofs adorned with tiny sleighs. It all added to my holiday funk.

The evening had been relatively quiet; there were calls for barking dogs and a residential false burglar alarm. There was nothing to make the night pass any quicker. I thought of my own family and sunk further into depression.

Shortly after 2200 hours I got a radio call to the home of an elderly, terminally ill man. I parked my patrol car in front of a simple Cape Cod style home. First aid kit in hand, I walked up the short path to the front door. As I approached, a woman who seemed to be about 80 years old opened the door. "He's in here," she said. She led me to a back bedroom.

We passed through a living room that was furnished in a style I had come to associate with older people. The sofa has an afghan blanket draped over its back and a dark, solid Queen Anne chair sat next to an unused fireplace. The mantle was cluttered with an eccentric mix of several photos, some ceramic figurines and an antique clock. A floor lamp provided soft lighting.

We entered a small bedroom where a frail looking man lay in bed with a blanket pulled up to his chin. He wore a blank stare on his ashen, skeletal face. His breathing was shallow and labored. He was barely alive. The trappings of illness were all around his bed. The nightstand was littered with a large number of pill vials. An oxygen bottle stood nearby. Its plastic hose, with face mask attached, rested on the blanket.

I asked the old woman why she called the police. She simply shrugged and nodded sadly toward her husband, indicating it was at his request. I looked at him and he stared intently into my eyes. He seemed relaxed now. I didn't understand the suddenly calm expression on his face.

I looked around the room again. A dresser stood along the wall to the left of the bed. On it was the usual memorabilia: ornate perfume bottles, a white porcelain pin case, and a wooden jewelry case. There were also several photos in simple frames. One caught my eye and I walked closer to the dresser for a closer look. The picture showed a young man dressed in a police uniform. It was unmistakably a photo of the man in bed. I knew then why I was there.

I looked at the old man and he motioned with his hand toward the side of the bed. I walked over and stood beside him. He slid a thin arm from under the covers and took my hand. Soon, I felt his hand go limp, I looked at his face. There was no fear there. I saw only peace.

He knew he was dying; he was aware his time was very near. I knew now that he was afraid of what was about to happen and he wanted the protection of a fellow cop on his journey. A caring God had seen to it that his child would be delivered safely to Him. The honor of being his escort fell to me.

When I left at the end of my tour that night, the temperature seemed to have risen considerably, and all the holiday displays I saw on the way home made me smile.

I no longer feel sorry for myself for having to work on Christmas Eve. I have chosen an honorable profession. I pray that when it's my turn to leave this world there will be a cop there to hold my hand and remind me that I have nothing to fear.

I wish all my brothers and sisters who have to work this Christmas Eve all the joy and warmth of the season.

We have all been there. God bless you all.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:9).

Author Unknown - Just a Cop

Friday, December 19, 2008

President's Holiday Wish and 2009 Schedule

Fellow Emeralds,

First I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday, Happy Hanukkah, and Merry Christmas!!!

While Christmas is a time of gift giving and receiving, I feel as though one of the greatest gifts I have received is the honor of being associated with my fellow brothers and sisters of the Emerald Society...There is not a finer group anywhere that exemplifies our tradition of the Claddagh (Love, Loyalty, and Friendship) and service to our law enforcement and entire community at large! So many of you have contributed so much in the preservation and support of our law enforcement and Irish heritage! There are too many names and too many events to mention in this message..But I thank all of you for the gifts of your wisdom,wit,knowledge, volunteerism, sacrifice, good humor,and spirit!

However, I will be sending out an end of the year message which will encapsulate what our Society has done and accomplished in 2008! That message will also contain our vision for the future and upcoming plans for 2009! And speaking of the future...

Here is our 2009 Los Angeles Police Emerald Society Meeting Schedule:

January 7th
February 4th
March 4th
April 15th
May 6th
June 10th
July 15th
August 5th
September 9th
October 14th
November 18th

Meetings begin at 1900 Hrs (7:00PM) and will take place at the LAPD Elysian Park Academy unless otherwise announced.

We remember all of our family and friends who are no longer with us in this world to celebrate our holiday season, especially our Emerald Society Brother "Red" Williams aka Santa Claus who left us in this year! Our annual Society visit to the Ronald McDonald House this year was dedicated to the memory of "Red" by our Emerald Society and in a very meaningful way by "Santa Tim" who performed and gave out presents as Santa for the children in a most magical way!

Lastly, please remember in our prayers, words and actions our law enforcement officers and soldiers, here , abroad and around the world ,who sacrifice every day to preserve our freedoms, liberty and lives! In the same way, we remember and honor the fallen and their families, for whom this can be an especially trying time of year.

God Bless Us All, Everyone!
Stephen Saletros
Los Angeles Police Emerald Society

Saturday, December 13, 2008

An Irish Christmas Blessing

During the coming
Christmas season
May you be blessed
With the spirit of the season,
which is peace,
The gladness of the season,
which is hope,
And the heart of the season,
which is love.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Big Hearts O' the Emerald Society

My Brother and Sisters of the Emerald Society,

A team of members to include Kim Braden, AKA Kim Bearden and Santa Claus are going to be making their annual trek to the Ronald McDonald House to visit some very special children who would be thrilled to receive a visit from Santa. These children and their families are facing serious medical problems and it it our hope to brighten their day with a visit from Santa.

Now , what we need now are some gifts for Santa to give to the children. Kim Braden has asked for our members who are going to the Christmas Holiday Party at the Walton residence to each bring a stuffed animal so that he can bear them as gifts with Santa. I think this is a splendid idea and thank Kim for the suggestion! So, if you could please bring a stuffed animal it would be greatly appreciated!

Our team will also be presenting the pull tabs (special thanks to Kim Braden and Mike Murphy) that have been collected as they will translate into a donation for the Ronald McDonald House! Any and all donations will be accepted in the spirit of the season!

If you are interested in joining our team on this venture please let me know via email and/or phone. The date is tentatively Thursday, 12/11 with a time to be announced tomorrow...most likely the afternoon.

"Irish Fest" with the Notre Dame Alumni Association was a great time..Thanks to all who participated and thanks to the Notre Dame Club of Los Angeles. While the outcome of the Notre Dame-USC contest was not what we had hoped for everyone still had a wonderful time and we look forward to "Irish Fest" next year!

Los Angeles Police Emerald Society