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2004 Wreathlaying Ceremony

Remarks on Behalf of Survivors

By Shirley Gibson, National President, Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), October 15, 2004

Today, October 15, 2004, commemorates the 13th Annual Wreathlaying Ceremony on this, the anniversary of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. We gather on this date, to honor our local officers who have lost their lives and the families who grieve them.

Nothing I say can take away your feelings of pain and loss, but I would like to tell you how sorry I am for the circumstances that brought you here.

What I hope you are able to hear from me this afternoon is someone who has been exactly where you are. Someone who can say "I know how you feel" and really do. Someone who has walked in your shoes, someone who shares your tears and grief.

Seven years ago, I sat in one of the seats you're sitting in, hoping that the nightmare of our son's death would end. I wanted so much to wake up and have my life and the members of my family's lives back the way they had been eight months before the nightmare began.

Even as I sat surrounded by family, friends, and members of Brian's police family, my pain was so private, so personal and deep that it could not be shared.

How dare someone cause my family and me this kind of pain! How dare someone take from us a person so important in our lives. How much rage could cause a human being to walk up to a police cruiser and fire four shots into the head of an officer, without provocation, and then simply walk away? I know now that evil has no conscience and that the animal who committed that unspeakable act never considered for even a second the impact of his actions. He knew nothing about MPO Brian Gibson, either as an officer or a man whose family cherished him. He did not care about the sadness our family would suffer as a result of a decision he made that ended a life in the seconds it takes to pull a trigger.

I would like to tell you why I am able to stand here today and speak of my loss. I have been in the exact place you are at this moment. I will never forget how it felt. I will never "get over" Brian's death, but I will get through the rest of my life.

When you consider the deep love your family feels for someone so precious in each of their lives, would any other response from you except GRIEF be appropriate? I say to you as we honor our loved ones today, that it is okay to feel the sadness. I, too, feel the sadness. Both yours and mine. The sadness I feel is a badge of honor. I wear the brokenness of my life at this moment with PRIDE. These expressions of my grief testify to the importance of and the depth of my love for Brian. I am willing to feel the full impact of my grief as an act of tribute and love.

Grief is hard work, but I will not run from it. There will be many more times in my life that I, like you, will shed tears, but that's as it should be, for those who have been take from us are worth every tear shed.

Today, as we sit in this sacred place of remembrance, surrounded by the thousands of names engraved on these panels, I ask that you see the faces of the husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, friends and coworkers. I ask that you see them in their uniforms, wearing their badge, standing straight and proud. Today, as you place your rose, you have the right to wear your badge of honor with as much pride as each of our fallen officers wore theirs.