Heroes No Longer Among Us

Day or night, rain or shine, they walk the beat.

They’re familiar with our darkest side, and are the first ones we call when troubles arise.

Theirs is a job too few appreciate and, because of the pay, undue family stress and daily hazard, even fewer choose as a profession. But theirs is a job society needs.

The men and women in law enforcement are often considered heroes. As children, many of us dreamed of growing up to wear the badge. Not for the power, rather to help others.

This week in Washington, D.C., officers from across the nation are being recognized for valiantly protecting our communities at the National Law Enforcement Memorial. Thousands of police and their families will gather at a number of ceremonies intended to honor the heroic deeds these men and women perform daily.

Missing from the ceremony will be 133 fallen heroes whose lives were cut short in 2008. Among them are Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Martha Woods-Shareef, 53, and Thibodaux Police Capt. Keith Paul Chiasson.

Shareef’s end of watch came at 2:30 a.m. Aug. 20, 2008, minutes after she responded to a burglary-in-progress call at a Lafourche convenience store. A 15-year veteran of the department, she became the agency’s fourth Lafourche deputy killed in the line of duty.

Chiasson died March 10, 2008, from injuries he sustained outside a Lafourche Parish nightclub in 1980. He rushed to the scene to investigate a disturbance only to be met by a hail of gunfire. His injuries initially left him paralyzed from the neck down, but with physical therapy, he regained partial use of his arms and hands. A police officer until the end, the 31-year veteran returned to the job to create the Thibodaux Police records division.

Shareef, Chiasson and the hundreds of men and women who laid down their lives so that our communities would be safe places to live and raise our children are true heroes.

A year later, they are still missed at home and on the job. But the values they held close and the courage they demonstrated serve as a model for the rest of us.

They fought the good fight, completed the race and kept the faith. To them – and all those who put on the badge each day – we owe a huge debt of gratitude.