Today’s journey was one that touched my mother’s heart. I had the joy and honor of being present for a ceremony in which my son Nate received his sergeant’s stripes and badge. The event marks an official new beginning in his own journey, and I appreciated the opportunity to be there to witness it.
My son decided, when he was eight years old, that he wanted to be a police officer when he grew up. Many kids go through phases where they want to be a police officer or a fire fighter or an astronaut, their careers changing along with their interests as they grow. His dad and I encouraged Nate to play and learn and read about law enforcement. We bought him a police scanner so he could listen to calls. We set up metal lockers in his room and painted them red, so he could stow his gear. And we encouraged him to let his imagination guide him.
Nate’s interest didn’t wane. He made a uniform out of blue dress slacks and a white shirt, complete with a duty belt and badge, a pair of toy handcuffs clipped to his belt. His beagle Sam became his police dog. He played at being a cop, practiced arresting his sisters, set up a mock police car in his room. He practiced ten codes and learned to respond to calls by observation and listening to his scanner. We took field trips to the police station. By the time he was 10 years old, he knew police officers who shared their knowledge with him and encouraged him along the path to law enforcement. I knew this was no longer a phase, but my son’s destiny, his chosen career.
Nate never wavered, joining the Police Explorer Program at 14, and later graduating from MSSU with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and an Associates in Law Enforcement. I attended his graduation from college and his graduation from the police academy. Congratulated him when he was sworn in as a police officer. I watched him drive by in his black and white cruiser, knowing he loved every moment of what he was doing. He was no longer pretending to be a police man. He was one.
For years, my son has kept his community safe, patrolling the city streets, responding to calls, and when necessary, making arrests. He does not take his responsibilities lightly. He continues to learn by attending classes and teaches other officers. He has chosen to be on the streets, behind the wheel of a cruiser. Last year, while doing a ride along with him, I watched him as he kept watch over all that was happening around him. I am proud to say that I saw him treat people with compassion and kindness, with firmness and efficiency, depending on the circumstances. He handled himself well and offered respect and sound advice to all.
As we cruised around town, he spoke with quiet confidence about his career. He had been a patrolman because that’s what he wanted to be. He now felt ready to accept more responsibilities. I love that Nate knows so well his own heart and his own path. He’s made excellent decisions from that place of knowing as he’s journeyed. From a boy of eight years to the man he now is, he’s been guided by his intention to serve and protect and he has fulfilled that with honor and competence. What a privilege to witness his journey and his life. How grateful I am that he is my son. I’ve learned from him about persistence and dedication and how to hold and nurture a dream and bring it into reality.
Congratulations Nathanael, on your promotion to sergeant. You are a great man and a great police officer, a wonderful husband, dad, brother and son. Onward and upward, son. I love you.