THE LAWMAN'S DUTY IS NEVER OVER
By Greg Evensen
October 18, 2007
“Once this round goes down the barrel, there is no calling it back.” Every now and then in a law enforcement officer’s (LEO) career, this statement has been made under one’s breath--with your .45 hammered back on condition one and screwed into the ear of a really obnoxious jerk, who needs the full brain effect of a Remington 230 grain round--costing exactly fifty cents. After carefully contemplating just how much paperwork is involved following the discharge of a weapon, the hours of debriefing by the prosecutor’s office, and court reviews three years after the fact, most of us return our firearms to a safer, less immediately lethal position, and “stupido” has yet another chance. Was THIS the real reason we pinned on a badge and strapped on “ole blue?”
Symbolically, we could mutter something similar before we rip and tear on the innumerably lazy, incoherent, thoughtless, careless, and recklessly dangerous fellow citizens we encounter each day on the highways of America. Dear God Almighty, is there ever an end to these half-wits? It’s as if they appear by the thousands each day from the School of Incompetence in Detroit. It does not matter how many LEOs are on patrol they just keep coming. Is this why we signed on with the thin blue line?
My sarcasm here is yet another update on how badly we are doing as a nation of sloppy and ill-informed citizens. Starting with the politicians at any level of authority, the failed outcome in the end is the same. It is increased numbers of “leaders” who care only of self-interest, self-aggrandizement, self-enrichment, self-promotion, and ultimately, self-destruction for the republic. The point IS, it is about self, not others. These people are terribly flawed, wounded by mostly self-inflicted events, and virtually, irretrievably lost human beings. Our nation is full of these individuals. Fortunately, we still see some intervention by self-LESS people, many of them lawmen, who are there to pick up society’s broken pieces.
Where are more role-models of civility, virtue and compassion? Where are the church “pastors” who are commanded by God Himself, to preach TRUTH, morality, Christ’s salvation from self-generated sin, and the steering of the lost to the Cross? The Christian church has broken down across America. Courage and leadership from the pulpit have been replaced with scriptural cowardice and a quest for “happy” members who give most generously and find nothing to fear or receive of value from the leaders of the mega-congregations, except more smiles all around and a hollow, “God loves you…”
What happened to men of strength and valor like Illinois State Police Trooper Ed Houghtby. He rode so valiantly down the streets of my hometown in Shabbona, Il. My father and my hero, Robert Evensen, a WWII B-24 pilot, spoke highly of Ed, because of who he was, what it was that he was “made” of. I saw him just last year. Long retired now, he was standing in the local cafe like a great symbol of what was. What has changed us so, into such a cold, brutal country? Can we ever have heroes again like Ed, who handed me the baton, hoping that we would want to step up and take their place?
I went on to Escanaba, Michigan, in 1960, where I attended junior high school. What a marvelous place to grow up, along the shore of northern Lake Michigan. My friends Jim Moore, Kevin Curran, Ray Sigorski, and many others along with my beautiful wife Betty, were classmates at that wonderful Upper Peninsula school. We had heroes like the Green Berets, Mercury Astronauts, and the Blue Angels. We won ball games, went to dances, and grieved together the cold and rainy November day John Kennedy died.
I remember hearing about my boyhood friend’s father, a Conservation Warden, killed in the line of duty by a poacher in Hermansville, Michigan, in the early 1960’s. I knew this good man and was saddened when he died. It seemed like we began to change in America about that time, and I believe in fact, we did--for the worse. So,…was this why we thought about becoming lawmen, to make it right, again?
Conroy O’Brien was a fellow Kansas State Highway Patrol Trooper. We roomed together at the academy. Conroy was the first REAL Christian man I had known. He and I worked together on the Kansas Turnpike in 1977. Conroy was shot and killed during a felony traffic stop one early spring morning south of Emporia. His wife Tanda was carrying their first child. A dozen or so years later, I was speaking at a large church in western Kansas. I mentioned Conroy and the impact he had on my life. I told the crowd about what a hero he was to me and the example he gave. At the conclusion of the service, to my absolute shock, Conroy’s widow Tanda, and the girl I assumed to be his daughter walked up to me and said, “So you must be my dad’s friend.” I’ll tell you for sure, tears came to us all. I knew that in front of me that day was the absolute meaning of family, love, devotion, courage, and honor all in that one place. I will never forget it. Other family members followed up and we lingered in those precious moments realizing how Conroy’s sacrifice had not been in vain. I stood in the cold wind and snow beside his grave in his home town of Abbyville, Kansas four Decembers ago recalling his voice and laughter. Did we do this knowing we would have to honor men like Conroy?
Later that evening on the way home, I reflected back on those years and realized how close we all really had been. There was just an u-n-d-e-r-s-t-a-n-d-i-n-g about how these things were supposed to be. Why it was we had all entered the academy together in Salina, Kansas, in 1974. Many were Viet Nam veterans, we served along side Korean War veterans, we were led by WWII veterans and we knew the meaning of the words, “devotion to duty,” “the ultimate sacrifice,” and “never leave a buddy behind.” If some of us had not actually lived the words, we knew those who had, and we carried a few of them to their eternal rest. In those times, steel is forged. After that, you were never the same. Was this the price we had to pay to “earn” the real value of the badge?
My good friend, retired Iowa Sheriff Jim Schwiesow, took the time to write me a wonderful personal letter explaining what I had already observed about him. Jim explained how during a meeting years ago, he was asked to reveal his position on a law enforcement question. He answered precisely as he should have and as he believed. There should be no favorites in a Sheriff’s eyes. ALL should be treated with dignity and justice. His honest, correct answer ended the meeting with Jim’s position on the matter clearly stated for all to hear. No if’s or maybe’s, everyone hearing the same words, some reacting clearly differently than others. And so it is with men of great moral leadership. Thanks, Jim. And thanks to fine Lawmen like: Rick Shumard, Jeff Evensen, Ben Evensen, Brian Berntson, John Daniels, Chris Stanton, Larry Zeutenhorst, Maynard Brazeal, Richard Mack and Jack McLamb. If we had not had Kurt Russell’s Wyatt Earp, Clayton Moore’s Lone Ranger and James Arness’ Matt Dillon, we would have been just fine, for those fictional heroes have lived in reality through these great lawmen of our day. Was it to be there for others and keep them from harm that we said yes?
Many of you in law enforcement understand perfectly what I am saying here. This is not about reminiscence, but it is about upholding the golden moments in life that all other moments are measured by. They remain models to be talked about, placed as mementos of the heart above our fireplace for others to admire. They must always be so, if we are to have any hope of sustaining a future that holds similar moments for those coming behind us.
If we are to maintain the BELIEF that there is hope for our nation, then we must support, educate and work with law enforcement across America to identify and prosecute the REAL criminals who would rob us of our REAL liberties. If we are to accept that through the efforts of tens of thousands of men and women employed as police officers, sheriff’s deputies, state troopers, investigators, special agents, lawmen and women standing in the gap, then we can turn away this national evil and there is hope. We must continue to give LEO’s real support to protect us from the bad guys that DO need to hear a click-click in their ear. Those up the food change that would enslave us just because they can--and just because “someone” else like a perverted Janet Reno says to--must be added to the bad guy list as well. Remember Waco, Ruby Ridge, the constant excesses of the BATFE and the threat of a government that arms poultry inspectors. Don’t forget, you’re not paranoid---if the threat is real.
You know, in my mind, I served in the image of The Lone Ranger and Wyatt Earp. I did not live in Dodge City, or ride a white horse. But it was in the symbolism of my role as a lawman. Along with countless thousands of others, I never took a DIME for my badge. I never walked away from the really hard moments. I never traded favors with another or distributed “street justice.”
At the end of the day, I rode off in a blue and gray State Highway Patrol unit. Like so many others, I pinned on the badge to make a difference. Like all of my lawman brothers, I made sure that my heart knew the absolute difference between right and wrong. Along with all of you, I still do, of course. That is why many of us fill our lives with opportunities to speak out from our experience in ways we can to help America stay on that time-honored course of lawful decency--in spite of the dishonorable people and events in Washington. After 35 years, I have handed the baton on to my son. It’s his responsibility now. However, the fire is still in my heart and mind. Like so many before me, and in honor of the oath I have never been asked to take back, this is a job I’ll finish the day I report for duty with those who have passed on before me in the next life.
You see, those of us who have been the thin blue line, have never retired or gone off duty, really. We’ve just been assigned a shift that never rests and that “rides” through the night with you as permanent back-up. No short-cuts, no loss of a Godly purpose and a just means to finishing the detail. Don’t be weary friend, don’t quit. Watch out for your partner. Keep the race that is set before you. Serve, protect, and defend…..no matter what. Stay true to your oath all the way to the end. Honor our nation and its constitution by your faithfulness to righteous law. Keep your badge untarnished and your weapon holstered as often as possible. Above all else, stay safe, keep your powder dry, and go home tonight to your family. In the end, that is why we did this. For all of you and for them……….
© 2007 Greg Evensen - All Rights Reserved
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Greg is a highly decorated former Kansas State Trooper and Kansas Marshal.
Recently Greg has completed a CD collection of inspirational songs, “Hymns from the Heartland” & “After the Storm…..” a teaching seminar on American history “Watching from the Ramparts,” and his CD book narrated by Greg, “The Sovereignty Papers.” They are available individually for $17.50 or all four for $50.00 at his web-site www.heartlandusaparty.org after Nov. 10th. Check the NWV advertising side bars as well after October 15th for early bird orders set for delivery before Christmas.
Greg’s new series, “America: The Fall from Grace and Power” begins soon and will offer readers a “seminar” on how to make it through the spiritual and political darkness descending over this once great nation.
Greg’s speaking and concert slate is out 15 months into the future. Pastors, contact Greg directly at; firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the end of the day, I rode off in a blue and gray State Highway Patrol unit. Like so many others, I pinned on the badge to make a difference. Like all of my lawman brothers, I made sure that my heart knew the absolute difference between right and wrong.