Editor's note: This letter was written Saturday by Anchorage Police Department Sgt. Shaun Henry to the citizens of Anchorage, following a procession to take the bodies of slain Alaska State Troopers Sgt. Patrick “Scott” Johnson and Gabriel “Gabe” Rich through the city to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport so they could be returned to Fairbanks for memorial services.
Amazing. Today we escorted Alaska State Trooper Sgt. Johnson and Trooper Rich back to the airport, for their final flight home. What I saw from the citizens of Anchorage, other areas of Alaska and visitors to our great state, was nothing short of amazing. As the procession wound across town from the State Medical Examiner's office to the airport, I was constantly reminded of why we do this job and more importantly, who we do it for. Many of you came out on purpose to pay your respects, while many others were simply caught up in it by circumstance. No matter which category you fell in to, it was quite obvious that your level of respect, patience, honor and support was honest and sincere. There was the group of children on Tudor near Elmore by the car wash, the group of Air Force personnel in uniform on Tudor near C Street, the gentleman in the black Ford F-350 at Tudor and Arctic waiting what must have seemed forever to make a turn, the lady in traditional Native dress performing a prayer on Tudor over the Seward Highway, the mom with three similarly-dressed daughters close to the airport itself…I could go on, but it would number in the thousands and there simply isn’t the room. Rest assured, every person in the motorcade saw each and every one of you, hearts crossed, hands held in salute or simply standing aside paying your respects.
Tragically, I’ve been to more law enforcement funerals than I have years in law enforcement total, and it simply does not get any easier. Every time law enforcement suffers anywhere, we bleed a little. The closer it hits home, the more it hurts. Today it was for our brother agency the Alaska State Troopers. It hurt. A lot.
We will honor our fallen, we will heal and we will continue on with what we all signed on this calling in life to do. Protect and serve. Today was a tragic reminder of why we do what we do. Evil does exist. More importantly, you exist and your support today was a welcome reminder that much more good exists, than evil ever will.
You put aside a few minutes of your day, when we normally tend to your needs, so that we may spend a few minutes taking care of our own. For that, I thank you.
The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, e-mail commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.