Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Our Fallen Hero

It was a sad day in our city today.  Today was the funeral for a Toronto police officer who was killed in the line of duty last week.  His name was Sergeant Ryan Russell and he was killed when he was struck by a stolen snow plow that he was trying to stop. He leaves behind his wife, Christine, and their two year old son Nolan.  He was only 35 years old.

I don't remember seeing a memorial like this before.  Apparently the Toronto police force hasn't had an officer killed in more than ten years, so no doubt that is why.  It is definitely a sad occasion but it is also heartwarming to see the outpouring of respect and gratitude, both from his fellow officers (some of whom have come from across the country and the U.S.) and from the people of Toronto. 

I think most of us tend to take for granted that if we need a policeman, a firefighter or a paramedic, one will always be close by, ready to come to our aid whenever we need it.  A quick call to 9-1-1 and they will be on their way.  Just a few months ago, I experienced first hand how helpful and kind these people can be, both when I called that 3 digit number and when the emergency personnel attended the scene of my car accident.

And yet, we either forget or don't think about or take their presence and their commitment for granted.  We make jokes about donuts and get irritated if we're stopped for a ticket or a RIDE check.  We don't think about the fact that these men and women risk their lives every day on the job, to keep our city and all of its occupants safe.

I've been at a conference for the past two days.  As it happened, the location was a downtown hotel only two blocks away from where the over 12,000 members of the Police Services, Emergency Services and RCMP gathered to march down University Avenue to honour Sgt. Russell before the funeral service.  This was the view from our conference room, 25 stories above:

Even from so high a vantage point, it was very moving to watch the marching officers, followed by the funeral cortege, and to see the crowds lined up along University Avenue.  I was so glad to have even this brief glimpse of the procession, to be able to share in this sad moment for our city and to pay my respects to this brave man.

The CN Tower will be lit up in blue tonight in honour of Sgt. Russell and all of our Police Services personnel.  I wish I could see it, but the rainy weather that added to today's sombreness continues and shrouds the view in fog. 

My heart goes out to Ryan's family.  I hope they gain comfort from all of the support they were shown today.  To them and to all who serve in uniform, both here at home and abroad, and to their families who worry every time they put on that uniform and go to work, I say thank you and God bless.

1 comment:

abeadlady said...

How nice to see this blog, Cyn. I worked with our local police, sheriffs, CHP and medical personnel for many years. They are a breed unlike any other. They are a family and fortunately for me, I was included in that family. My prayers go out to Sgt Russell's family and friends.