What would you do differently?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 18, 2012

If we could go back to right before 5 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012, I imagine there are lots of things that we all would do differently. However, the biggest difference would have been for the two men whose last day on earth came too quickly.

There would probably have been a few more minutes of cuddling in bed between the officers and their wives before rushing to begin the day. A dad would have spent a few more minutes playing with his own child before heading out the door to protect the children of others.

A wife would have lingered a bit longer during that good-bye kiss. A grown man would have called his mom or dad to tell them he loved them one last time and then would have made a few calls to give forgiveness to a long lost friend or relative before putting the badge on for the final time.

The only problem is that we can’t go back. The nightmare is real, and there are six children who will never be held by their daddy again. The lives of those families, our community and the officers involved in the traffic stop massacre will never be the same.

An innocence that existed before those bullets took the last breaths of brave men is no longer there. The innocence found in the love of a wife, the laughter of a child and the sense of safety in a community died a quick death Thursday and will take a lot of work to bring back. As I was traveling through our community that afternoon, I kept hearing a common statement from people trying to hold back tears, “This kind of thing doesn’t happen here…it happens in New Orleans and other places.” They were right. It never happened here before, but it just did.

The strange thing is that I truly believe those men would still put their badge on and walk out the door to protect the community they loved. Why did they do it? I’m not talking about the evil ones that shamelessly killed two of St. John’s finest and wounded another two officers. I am speaking about the officers themselves. Why did they wake up every day, put on the badge and uniform and risk their lives for us?

There must be something different about someone who chooses to put himself in harm’s way to protect others. Sheriff Mike Tregre said, “A police officer knows every time they put their uniform on that they might have to take a life, save a life or give their own to do their job.”

We all speak about starting new chapters and moving forward with our lives. Aug. 16, 2012, began a new chapter for our region. We, the living, are the hopes and dreams of those who came before us so let us begin this new chapter and build a united, stronger and safer region. For the deaths of those brave men to not have been in vain, we must fight for justice and choose a future based on safer streets, honest government and economic opportunity for all.

So, I ask, what will you do differently today?

Buddy Boe, a resident of Garyville, owns a public relations and program management company and is well known on the local political (and food) scenes.