Ladies and gentlemen, as trite as it may sound, it is an honor and a privilege to join you this evening as we collectively recognize this group of Connecticut’s finest officers. I am humbled by the opportunity to share my thoughts, as well as our collective appreciation and admiration for tonight’s honorees.
In his work Common Sense, author Thomas Paine wrote that “…the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly.” While Paine’s words were offered in the context of the sacrifices associated with the Revolutionary War, his meaning, of course, was that we value things in life more significantly if we have worked to achieve them and that if recognition comes too easily, we do not appreciate it is as we would have if we had worked for it.
Shortly tonight’s honorees will receive awards commemorating and memorializing their respective contributions to their communities and to our state. As the officers are called forth, I ask them to consider Paine’s words. These plaques and proclamations only symbolize the great triumphs the honorees have received in our noblest of professions. They merely are a token of the collective enthusiasm for the dedicated self-sacrifice and desire you have shown to make your town or city, our state, and our nation an ideal place in which to live and work—simply a better place. Do not view this evening’s recognition too cheaply. Please understand that we acknowledge that what you have done means so much more that what we can convey in a simple plaque or certificate.
As I reflect on a law enforcement career that has spanned 29 years and included service at the local, federal, and state levels and on my involvement in the representation of officers subject to civil litigation, I consider it natural to question whether I or we make a difference. To answer that question, I think of children in broken homes whom we have cared for and realize that we have saved lives, even if I cannot empirically prove this fact. I think of the cycles of domestic violence abuse that we have broken by removing batterers from homes and realize that we have saved lives, even if I cannot empirically prove this fact. I think of the thousands, the tens of thousands, of intoxicated drivers who we have taken off of Connecticut’s roadways and realize that we have saved lives, even if I cannot empirically prove this fact.
And, yes, I think of each of the individual actions of the troopers and police officers that join us here this evening, and I realize that you have saved lives, even if I cannot empirically prove this fact. We do not know who those victims or their families would have been. In some way, they do not even know who they would have been. But, the victims certainly are out there. You are to be commended, rightfully honored, and thanked by us for your efforts. My words, whether poorly described or eloquently articulated, offered on behalf of all of us here this evening cannot possibly capture in adequate fashion our amazement at the loss that you prevented and the heartache that you have saved.
Major Fox serves with the Connecticut State Police as chief of staff in the Office of the Deputy Commissioner. He presented this speech to the 2011 recipients of the Police Officer of the Year Award from the Connecticut District Exchange Club.
“…I proudly share with you that tonight’s award recipients and countless others like them who toil every day in virtual anonymity or, perhaps, even in obscurity are our true heroes.”