As 2011 drew to a close and the debate between the “Happy Holidayers” and “Merry Christmasers” grew to a fever pitch along with all the other mundane arguments and our rampant consumerism made a valiant attempt to lift of flagging economy, we continued to lose those brave individuals who put their lives on the line each and every day just to uphold those freedoms we hold dear.  Our Police, Fire, EMS and military personnel had memorials to their fallen brethren to numerous to mention, but I will try to provide some statistics for 2011 such as they are at his early time in the new year.  Please keep in mind these numbers are based off of some Web research and where possible I used field specific resources.

According to the Military Times there are records of 463 military deaths in 2011.  This is a cross-service listing and the overall records are not limited to combat fatalities.  Military Times does a great representation of the by-name listing and you can search their archives based upon several categories including combat specific, by theatre.  Visit The Military Times in order to see the faces of military sacrifice.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund website has a disturbing 13% increase in LOD deaths for police officers over the 2010 statistics in the 2011 preliminary data.  Early information suggests 173 Law Enforcement Officers of local, state and federal standing died in a variety of ways in the line of duty; in other words protecting the public!

There is a bit of a blur between Fire and EMT statistics, many EMTs are members Fire Departments.  These two Public Safety fields are joined at the hip as brothers and sisters with Law Enforcement being a very closely related 1st cousin.  I will break it down by the two websites I could find that had the most apparent legitimacy to them.  According to FEMAs, U.S. Fire Administration webpage  over 70 Firefighters lost their lives in 2011.  The National EMS Memorial Service adds several more EMS related names but is by no means complete.

The main point I want to get across here is, we are all part of a great nation with enormous amounts of freedoms and liberties.  Believe me, I have traveled enough through multiple countries to greatly appreciate what we have here.  These freedoms that we ALL take for granted at some time or another come at great cost.  The cost is not so simple as the numbers of sacrifices displayed on these lists.  The death of any person who has dedicated themselves to the safety and preservation of our liberties creates a loss for the nation as a whole.  Families feel the loss, comrades and fellow brothers and sisters are changed with each act of violence and the nation loses a commodity that is already in short supply.  We often focus on the negatives of these career fields: greed; corruption; opportunity to become the criminal; abuse; torture.  These are just some of the topics that can follow a field for years ever tainting the nobility of those who actually perform in legitimate endeavors.  Often it seem that once a memorial has taken place we move on from the departed.  Society as a whole needs to be reminded regularly of the faces that gave so that they can choose to forget.

We honor our noble dead not just for the actions that lead to their sacrifice; we honor them as an ever present reminder to those who benefit from that sacrifice without ever having known them personally.

2012 started with the brutal killing of a Park Ranger performing a traffic stop in Mount Ranier Park.  As of this writing the shooter is still at large and believed to be heavily armed.  He is a former soldier and is being tracked through the park by federal agents and police.  Ranger Anderson was the mother of two young girls and her husband is also a Ranger who was on duty in another part of the park at the time of the incident.

 

UPDATE:

It is believed the suspect in the death of Park Ranger Margaret Anderson has been found dead in Mount Ranier Park.  The updated story can be found here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/02/benjamin-colton-barnes-_n_1179815.html

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Comments
  1. A thought provoking -and sad- commentary to begin the New Year. A wonderful piece.

    Like

  2. Thank you very much Rachel. This topic may not fit strictly in with my “not drinking the Kool-Aid” intent, but with all the pop-culture lists out there it was the least I could do to honor my brothers and sisters in the people protection service industry.

    Like

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