Friday, December 28, 2012

Eli and his stuff from the LA State Troopers
As of today, our country has lost a combined number of 127 officers in federal, state, and local law enforcement organizations during the year 2012, according to the website Officer.com. A tribute video on the site to those men and women highlights each of them with a brief description of how they died. Watching the video, I noticed how simple many of the explanations are: “… was killed serving a warrant; … was killed during a traffic stop; … was killed in a car crash while responding to a call.” I think the presence of our law enforcement officers is so common, that we take for granted what they face each day. And, it’s not the dealings they have with criminals, but it is the possibility of not coming home. Another minute is guaranteed no one, but every day that any domestic law officer dons a uniform (and sometimes when they are even off duty) a routine assignment can turn deadly. They many times do not
receive the accolades or recognition that our armed forces deservedly do because of that common prominence within our communities, within our everyday lives. Eli has had the privilege of meeting several members of the law enforcement ranks, and he is always so excited. And, you know, I have to be honest, that part of his excitement is because of what they drive, but only part. When we came home from St. Jude in September we were escorted by Officer
 Joel Hamm and Sergeant Charlie Clem of the Athens Police Department. Eli was beside himself excited
 to see the lights, and their tag team maneuvering to block intersections for him to pass through in his limo. It was truly special that they would give of their time to do that for him. Recently, he met with Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely and Deputy Gilbert who drove him around in his car. Eli was allowed to turn the lights on and off, and checked the car out pretty thoroughly. Sheriff Blakely swore Eli in as deputy, and gave him a license and certificate, but Eli forgot to make arrangements for a paycheck. He toured the female inmate jail, and saw the trustees. It was so nice of Sheriff Blakely and Deputy Gilbert to spend their time with Eli. He was high on that experience all day.

Eli getting sworn in by Sheriff Blakely
I have already shared most of this in another post but, just in case you missed it: At our last trip to St. Jude we ran into a couple of Louisiana State Troopers who were visiting as part of a group of Troopers. When I called Vic that night, I said, “Hey, guess who I saw today? A Louisiana State Trooper.” He was silent a second or two then slowly asked, “Did you see him through the window of the Sequoia or some other way?” Hmmm, my history precedes me. We missed the meet-and-greet with the group, but we ran into these two guys at the gift shop. They were so nice to stop for pictures and give Eli a Wal-Mart gift card after they had already spent their time at the hospital. My friend Amy Vining’s boyfriend is Louisiana’s Top Trooper Lanny Bergeron and he sent Eli a big care package which included a badge, hats, an official uniform watch, a Mardi Gras trooper necklace, Christmas ornament, and a cool LA Trooper SUV just like Bergeron drives. He was thrilled with all of it, and if he gives me any more tickets
 I’m going to have to hand over my keys. I have one other picture that I want to share. I have been saving it because I wanted to do a post about vehicles, but I know I stay behind on posting, and it was such a special experience for Eli, I don’t want to forget to share it. Lanier Greenhaw invited Eli to see his 1969 (I think) VW camper van. Eli loves old cars and he had a matchbox VW van, so he was very excited to see one in real life. Lanier, who owns Dub’s Burgers in Athens, worked with my dad as a young guy, so it was special for me to have him meet Eli and share something with him. To make it more exciting, he gave Eli a 1:64 size North American Moving Company semi-truck and trailer, which is the company Daddy had his business with. He displays it prominently on his dresser, and he is very proud to have it. Also, since then, Eli found a VW camper
Eli and Lanier
 van in the Legos magazine that he looks at regularly, so I know how much that visit meant to him. Lanier offered to set it up in our driveway for Eli and Vic to campout one night, and I had hoped to do that, but time gets behind me faster than a guilty child. And, now, we have our own camper! Anyway, I continue to be humbled at and grateful for the kindness of people, especially toward one little boy. It energizes him, it educates him, and it helps him grow inside and out to have these experiences.
Look who's strong enough to change to the top bunk!

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