The feedback from those who were strengthened and encouraged by the Shields of Strength continues to pour in.
C.O.P.S. to Point 27: “You made a huge impact.”
Chris Kahmke, a retired Law Enforcement Officer and current Director of Development for the nonprofit organization Concern of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) arranged for the distribution of the Thin Blue Line Shields to families who attended the National Police Week events in Washington DC. Kahmke said that the necklaces meant a great deal to the family members of Fallen Officers.
Kahmke said that every attendee at the C.O.P.S. conference that week was given a Thin Blue Line Dog Tag Necklace; and that the Folded Flag Necklaces will be presented to families attending the C.O.P.S. first-year survivor retreats.
In an email to Point 27, Kahmke wrote: “I want you to know, I saw child after child, spouses, co-workers wearing the necklaces throughout the conference. I have been approached by Chapter Presidents and Survivors asking who was behind this token of generosity. So on behalf of all our current and past survivors, thank you. You made a huge impact. You gave our survivors a daily reminder of their sacrifices, that they could wear in honor of their fallen officer(s).”
Fallen Police Officer Gold Star Family Members wearing Thin Blue Line Shields of Strength
National Police Week
National Police Week is a collaborative effort of many organizations dedicated to honoring America’s law enforcement community. Principal organizers of National Police Week held in Washington DC, include the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which sponsors the annual Candlelight Vigil at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial; the Fraternal Order of Police/Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary, which organizes the Peace Officers Memorial Day Service at the U.S. Capitol; and Concerns of Police Survivors, which holds the National Police Survivors’ Conference.
Statistics show that, on average, one law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty somewhere in the United States every 53 hours. Since the first known line-of-duty death in 1791, more than 19,000 U.S. law enforcement officers have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall
For attendees, one of the strongest centerpieces of Police Week is the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall in Washington D.C., that features the names of the nearly 19,000 Law Enforcement Officers who have been killed in the line of duty.
The Memorial is designed with four bronze lions, two male and two female; each watching over a pair of lion cubs.
Below each lion is carved a different quotation:
“In valor there is hope,” from Tacitus
“The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are as bold as a lion,” Proverbs 28:1
A quote from President George H.W. Bush, “Carved on these walls is the story of America, of a continuing quest to preserve both democracy and decency, and to protect a national treasure that we call the American dream.”
The fourth quote is comprised of the words of a surviving widow of a Fallen Police Officer, Vivian Eney Cross. The quote reads: “It is not how these officers died that made them heroes, it is how they lived.”
Fallen Police Officer Gold Star Family at Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, Washington, DC
Subsequent to the National Police Week, Point 27 has been busy encouraging Law Enforcement Officers and family members of Fallen Officers with gifts of Thin Blue Line Shields of Strength dog tag necklaces and Folded Flag Pendant Necklaces. Gifts have been made to the Dallas, Beaumont, and Arlington, Texas Police Departments, the Kennesaw, Marietta, and Forsyth, Georgia Police Departments, the Santa Barbara, CA, Police Department, the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. God’s Word engraved on a simple piece of metal is a powerful reminder of hope and strength. These Words encourage and strengthen Police Officers and Family Members of Fallen Officers during the toughest of times.
Letter from Officer Will McGary Memorial Foundation
Mr. Dodd, sir,
I am sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. I received your note enclosed in the box of Shields of Strength necklaces. I would be honored to share what they mean to me and what I hope they will mean to those to whom we distribute them.
First, please, let me thank YOU for your service to our country. I saw from your signature line that you are a retired US Army Colonel. I am proud to be affiliated with you, sir. If there was anything I ever wanted to do, it was to serve my country. I never got the opportunity to do so, but I am grateful to every one of you who did.
Now about the Shields of Strength. I volunteer for the Officer Will McGary Memorial Foundation which was established in 2013 after the death of 26 year old Officer Will McGary while in the line of duty. Will’s mother is my best friend. I became very actively involved in the Foundation in early 2015.
This past May, I accompanied the McGary family to Washington, D.C. to the annual fallen law enforcement officer’s candlelight vigil and visited the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall where we saw Will’s name inscribed for all of eternity along with the other brave officers who gave their lives. It was emotionally overwhelming and touching.
We were registering for C.O.P.S. events that second day we were there when I was handed a thin blue line necklace. I have an instant attraction to anything bearing the American flag, so I was immediately drawn to the necklace. So many things about it grabbed my attention that I stood there for some time looking it over. First of all, it was a dog tag necklace. This, along with the flag, immediately paid homage, in my mind, to our US veteran heroes. The addition of the thin blue line in the flag reminded me that our law enforcement officers are all that stand between good people and the whims of a lawless society. Anyone stepping into the role of law enforcement officer is truly placing himself in harm’s way in this present world and that entitles him/her to great respect from the rest of us. Perhaps the most emotional part of this gift, to me, was when I turned it over and saw that beautiful verse, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” My heart was truly touched by this. Amidst all the loss, the grieving families I was surrounded by, the pain I was bearing with my dearest friend of the loss of her only son, it was like a quiet reminder from heaven that Will died keeping the peace in the greatest country in the world. He was doing what he was passionate about doing when he was killed. He was protecting his fellow man and his fellow officers surrounding the scene of an accident when he was struck by an impaired driver. If it had not been Will that had been struck that night, it is unknown how many other lives may have been lost instead, and if I know Will, he would not have tolerated that.
Will was an especially blessed peacemaker, because he chose organ donation during his lifetime, and we know of three lives who were changed and saved because of this choice. Two teenage girls received his kidneys, and a middle-aged man received his heart. They attend our events as they are able. So you see that this blessed peacemaker never stopped giving, even in death. What a legacy for a 26 year old man! We chose to turn this tragedy into a triumph by establishing the Officer Will McGary Memorial Foundation. We support law enforcement officers and the youth of our community. I hope you’ll visit our website to find out more about Will and about us.
As for those we intend to distribute the Shields of Strength to, it my hope that, whatever their situations, they will be reminded of the same things I was. I know, as patrons of a car show fundraiser event, it is likely that many of them have never been touched by tragedy such as this. I hope that, after viewing the slideshow we will have displayed, they will be solemnly reminded to respect our law enforcement officers and to honor those that have given their lives to the cause of peacekeeping. I hope they will realize that God blessed them by allowing them to be citizens of this country of ours. I pray God will use the scripture on the necklace to speak to their hearts, for we know His Word never returns to Him void, but it accomplishes that which he sends it to do. I believe this.
I gave my necklace to my 16-year-old son when I returned from D.C. and he was moved by it. These necklaces are in every way the kind of item with which we wish to represent our Foundation. They speak of God, honor, and American heroes and that, to me, about sums it up.
I thank you very much for your very generous gift, and I hope that in days to come, we can get to the place that we can afford to regularly purchase these from you as part of our giveaways. I saw a variety of styles on your website that I loved as well and I hope the time will come that we are able to place a nice, big order. Until then, I have prayed that God will bless the work of your hands.
I am attaching a couple photos at the Wall in D.C.
Memorial Wall for Fallen Police Officers, Washington, D.C.
Officer Will McGary Family Members at Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
I will send photos of our event after it takes place in September. God bless you.
M.O.M., a military support group in Mount Pleasant, Texas will include over a thousand Shields of Strength, which Point 27 gave for inclusion in care packages the support group will send across the world to soldiers who will be separated from their families over the holidays.
Prayer, Honor, Awareness
The M.O.M. organization is an outreach to the country’s military service men and women. The group has set a mission to provide care packages to military members deployed or stationed in the U.S. and overseas, and has stated a commitment for:
praying for the safety and well-being of military troops
bringing community awareness to the sacrifices they are making to preserve freedom
honoring Veterans for their military service.
Kelly Cooper, Marine Mom and Director of M.O.M., loves to share Shields of Strength with her son and other Warriors
Kellye Cooper heads the East Texas M.O.M. group and spearheads the Mount Pleasant Carry The Load rallies.
Cooper’s son serves in the U.S. Marines.
“As a small nonprofit, without Point 27 supporting M.O.M., we could never afford to give out the amount of Shield of Strength Dog Tags that we are giving to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines. I honestly cannot put into words how this all makes me feel because I am truly overwhelmed at what Point 27 means for the Mission of MOM,” Cooper said. “Sharing God’s Word with the men and women who are serving and sacrificing is the best Christmas gift we can give.”
Thousands remember the moment the deadliest terrorist attack took place on American soil. That experience was no different for decorated U.S. Army (Ret) Col. David Dodd, who remembers it was a time of high spiritual warfare.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Dodd had no idea that he and his new command, the 86th Signal Battalion, would soon deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and later support Operation Iraqi Freedom, in America’s War on Terrorism.
Shields of Strength Dog Tags
Days before the deployment, Dodd’s sergeant major was in a Christian bookstore where he found some dog tags engraved with the scripture Joshua 1:9: “Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
“I thought that that dog tag would be something that would encourage our soldiers during deployment,” Dodd told CBN News.
Dodd ordered 500 of them, one for every soldier under his command for that initial deployment to Afghanistan following 9/11, from Shields of Strength, a company founded by Kenny Vaughan.
“Obviously, the Shields wouldn’t stop a bullet, and they weren’t good luck charms, but they were reminders of the power of God’s Word,” Dodd remembers. “My wife Sharon and I would pray for each of the soldiers in my command before we gave them the Shield of Strength and just before they boarded the transport for Afghanistan.”
Dodd said it was one of the toughest experience but knew it was something he was called to do.
Take Fight to Enemy…Pray
“Everybody in that unit wanted to go forward and take the fight to the enemy and away from the United States,” he said.
Dodd’s unit stayed until 2002 and, amazingly, there were no casualties. But he has not stopped praying for the military or the nation.
“I believe there is a determined enemy. There is somebody who has declared war on us, still at war with us. They’re not going to stop fighting us. And for our nation to be safe and to be victorious we need to have God on our side and we need to turn to God and ask for his mercy, his protection, and his grace,” Dodd said.
“I often pray 2 Chronicles 7:14,” he added. “That if we would humble ourselves and turn from our wicked way and pray and seek God’s face that he would forgive our sins and heal our land. It is my prayer still today that we would humble ourselves and seek God’s face.”
Shields of Strength and Point 27
Dodd has shared more than 10,000 Shields of Strength with members of the military and U.S. and international leaders during his active military service.
Now he is building up members of the military, veterans, and families of the fallen soldiers, first responders and families of fallen responders; through a nonprofit called Point 27.
by: Talia Wise
Talia Wise serves as a multi-media producer for CBN News Newswatch, CBNNews.com and social media outlets. Prior to joining CBN News she worked for Fox Sports Florida producing and reporting. Talia attended Regent University where she earned a Master’s in Journalism and the University of Virginia. She lives in Newport News, Virginia.
Point 27 salutes Military Families; they are a National Treasure. Military families serve and sacrifice alongside the Warrior who wears the uniform. They carry such a heavy burden and they are often lost within the crowd of “normal” life. When the Warrior is deployed, they fear the worst and pray for the best. Often, neighbors, classmates, teachers, church friends, coaches, and extended family don’t understand, or even acknowledge what is going on in their world. However, these wonderful Americans contribute significantly to the National Defense and freedom all Americans enjoy. By supporting the Warrior so that he/she can focus on the mission, they increase the combat effectiveness of the force. When a Soldier is focused on family problems he is not focused on his combat mission. This lack of focus is dangerous for the Soldier and every member of his unit. When the Soldier knows that his family is doing well, his mind is free to focus 100% on his mission. This peace of mind increases the combat readiness of his unit, the Armed Forces, and it strengthens the Nation. Therefore, when you meet a military family member, thank them for their service, acknowledge their many sacrifices, and thank them for helping to defend the freedom you and your family enjoy. “No Man’s War,” is a window into the life of an army wife, Angela Rickets, who endured years of deployments. For a preview of her book and a glimpse into her life, read on….
An Army Wife Charts Her Struggles In ‘No Man’s War’
Excerpt: No Man’s War Sometimes when you wake in the middle of the night it’s only for a slippery moment, a moment to re-cozy yourself, to remember with a flash of panic that forgotten appointment from the day before or to get up to potty. Potty is a word mothers begin using from the moment they give birth and never leaves their vocabulary until death. Sometimes what wakes you is a long-forgotten memory, the thing you tried to put behind you.
Once or twice in a lifetime you wake up and just know it: You are dying, even though three hours ago you were watching Dexter and fluffing pillows on the couch and wiping down the kitchen countertops because you never know what the night will bring. And because a perfectly neat home masks the other mess that spins beyond control.
I jerk awake and move the empty wine glass to see the time on the digital clock. Two something. I should remember the precise time on the clock, but I am a date person. Dates I remember; times, not so much.
In the silent house with a staring cat and three sleeping children and again without a husband present, I struggle through sleepy, disoriented eyes to remember where I am. A sweet artificial stank hangs in the air; oh yeah, the Yankee Candle I blew out before I slammed the last gulp of wine. Nothing looks familiar as I go back and forth in my mind; which issue is more pressing, the crushing pain in my chest or where the hell I am? The glare of the streetlight shining into the window reminds me I’m home, home for now. This is our third house in less than two years, and it takes me a minute to remember where I am. Fort Campbell. Just across the Tennessee border, but with a Kentucky address, surely the result of a political fight over which state got to claim ownership of the home of the 101st Airborne. I’m back in the familiar zone I like to think of as Grey Street, a favorite Dave Matthews song about a woman who feels numbed and paralyzed by her life. Like her world has spiraled beyond her control. Where colors bleed and overlap into only gray. The vibrancy of each color not lost, just absorbed into a blanket of grayness. The gray of autopilot. The gray of another deployment, of a home with a man of the house who wouldn’t know which drawer held the spoons. He’s the man of the house in concept alone. He is three months into a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan, with no need to even own a house key.
But in this two-something wee hour, these ideas are just whispers under my blankets and inside my skin. My feet nudge around looking for the children who sometimes wander half asleep into my bed. As soon as I move I feel it, the thing that startled me awake. It isn’t a dream or a memory or a forgotten appointment. It’s pain, the physical kind. What frightens me in that moment isn’t the gripping pain in my chest, but a wave of incomprehensible terror for its newness and unfamiliar nature. A twisting stab in my back pushes me out of bed and to my feet. I feel sweat roll down the back of my neck, but it’s almost Thanksgiving and I allow the chill from outside to come into our home at night. I prefer the insulation of blankets and flannel pajamas to warm air.
Oh hell. It’s a panic attack. My body is at long last going on strike, revolting from the stress of eight long, intense deployments. That’s what I’ve been warned of, anyway, in the “resiliency” workshops and briefings army wives sit through during deployments. Well, before deployments, during deployments, and after deployments. So all the time. Whatever you face or feel, surely it’s addressed in a binder somewhere. The army’s philosophy is that just by virtue of identifying and labeling an issue, it’s 95 percent fixed. At each available opportunity, we are reminded to pace ourselves and manage stress. I picture the PowerPoint slide: “Panic attacks are a terrifying but normal reaction: It will feel like you are going to die, but here are coping tips … Remember, we are army strong!” But what were the tips? Dammit. Breathe. That’s surely one. I do feel like I’m going to die.
I grab my cell phone off the dresser and wander through the upstairs of our quiet house. Joe is almost a teenager, a stack of Call of Duty: Black Ops video games just inches from his sleeping head and a game controller teetering on the edge of the bed. The violent video games that Jack allowed because they are a reality of his job. Jack argued that the video games are disturbing with their accuracy and not gratuitous in their violence. The line between good guys and bad guys is clear, at least in the game.
Our two daughters, Bridget, who is ten, and Greta, five, are curled together in Bridget’s room across the hall. Using the term our is an effort on my part. “My children” comes more naturally; I have to make an effort to remind myself that these are “our children.” I’m not alone in parenting, at least not in theory. In reality, yes, I am alone.
In this moment of defining chest pain I am alone.
From No Man’s War by Angela Ricketts. Copyright 2014 by Angela Ricketts. Excerpted by permission of Counterpoint Press.
July 15, 2014 3:01 PM ET
No Man’s War Irreverent Confessions of an Infantry Wife
People often expect military wives to be strong and stoic. But in her new memoir, No Man’s War: Irreverent Confessions of an Infantry Wife, Angela Ricketts writes about the difficulties she faced during her husband’s deployments – including the stresses it put on their marriage and on raising their three children.
She also writes about the toll of always bracing herself for the next goodbye.
“After the first really wretched, wretched deployment, each one after that you become a little more removed – a little more numb to the feelings,” Ricketts tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “That kind of blackens your soul. We joke about that. Army wives say, ‘Channel the black soul, honey.’ ”
Ricketts’ husband was deployed eight times – four of them to Iraq or Afghanistan. He was a lieutenant during his first deployment to Somalia in 1992. Then he became a battalion commander. Now, he’s a colonel in homeland defense, and they live in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Ricketts, who has a master’s degree in social psychology and human relations, grew up in an Army family.
“We are a culture that does lend itself to perpetuating Army brats who either become Army spouses or soldiers themselves,” she says. “So as much as … I wanted to be rebellious and I wanted to do something different, as I got into college … and saw what life outside the little Army bubble was like, the more I realized that I really enjoyed Army life and wanted to be an Army wife.”
Ricketts’ book explores the culture at home on the military bases, the responsibilities of being an officer’s wife, and the relationships she formed with other infantry wives. Interview Highlights
On the six years of their 22-year marriage her husband was deployed
He went to Somalia right after we got married, and that’s actually where he got his combat patch. And I measured every deployment after that against Somalia, because that was really intense and really scary. Angela Ricketts, whose husband deployed eight times over 22 years, says she had to get over resentment around parenting their three kids alone while he was gone.
And we didn’t have the technology that we do now with emails and immediate news. I had Christiane Amanpour, who I just hung onto her every word on CNN back then – that was all I knew. And [I had] the few letters that I got from [my husband]. So, to me, that was truly a deployment.
After that, he went to Macedonia, he went to Bosnia, he went to Kosovo, and those were each six months. Then he did two about a half-a-year deployments in Afghanistan, then a 15-month deployment to Iraq, then a year in Afghanistan.
On her ROTC basic training at Fort Knox and realizing why she didn’t want to be a soldier
It was the rules and the structure. I [always] wanted to know why.
Every time they told me to do something, I just really wanted to say: “That’s really stupid. Who cares if there are water droplets in the water fountain?” That was my job in the barracks was to make sure there were no water droplets in … the drinking fountain. I thought that was really dumb. It did not work for me at that kind of a level.
I think that when you’re a soldier, you definitely fit this sort of mold where you can take orders and you don’t need to know why – you just do what you’re told.
On her husband’s last deployment to Afghanistan
This last deployment, our oldest son, Jack … he was in sixth grade, so he was just getting to the point where he really missed his dad. And he was angry that his dad was gone because he knew that his dad had volunteered for that last year in Afghanistan, and that he didn’t have to go. It’s a really weird mix of pride and also some anger, too … definitely a feeling of being a second priority.
On the emotional difficulty of saying goodbye
The “black soul” is the numbness that you reach a point after the first few deployments – it just rips your gut out when you say goodbye. And you’re just left in this puddle of tears and emotional and weepy for days. That can only happen so many times. Just like they say you can really only have your heart broken once. …
I’ve become kind of stoic in general. People cry at movies, and I look at them and say, “Really? You’re really crying at this movie?” Because I just feel very unfazed by a lot of things that should faze me.
On getting over the resentment of parenting alone
I was resentful, and that’s where counseling came in for us. That’s where our therapist really showed us that he had a right to feel the way that he felt, and I definitely had a right to feel the way I felt, but that we had to move on from that. Especially now that he’s transitioned away from the infantry and likely will not go back to that, he just really appreciates every moment with our kids a lot more [than] what I’ve seen [in] regular families – dads who haven’t been gone the way he has, they sort of take the time with their kids a little more for granted, I guess. …
He really does a great job at making up for what he’s missed. That takes away a lot of the resentment for me. Every now and then, though, it’s hard for me to say “our children.” It does much more easily come to me to say “my daughter, my son, my whatever.” If he’s there, he’ll correct me and say “our daughter, our son.”