Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony 2012

Yesterday marked the date of the Peace Officers Memorial ceremony here in North Dakota. It’s held annually at the monument on the capitol grounds in honor of law enforcement officers who have perished in the line of duty. Most years it is a solemn look back at distant history…this year it was a reflection on the tragic losses of two officers within the past year. I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said, so I’m just going to share a few photos and let them do the speaking.


Standing at attention


Heartfelt thanks and condolences by Attorney General Stenehjem and others


Wreath presentation before the memorial


21 gun salute


Two names added


I’ll gladly admit that I’m a tireless cheerleader for law enforcement personnel here and all across our great nation. Some of them give it all in the line of duty, and this memorial honors that sacrifice. The national memorial ceremony is next week, and since there are two North Dakota families traveling to attend that ceremony, the North Dakota commemoration was moved to this week. Next week is Law Enforcement Week here in North Dakota and all across the USA, so please take any opportunity you get to thank them for their service on our behalf.

9/11 Ceremony at the state capitol grounds

I spent the afternoon at the commemorative ceremony at the capitol Sunday. It was an appropriate memorial of the terrorist attack on our nation (not just a “tragic event” as some say) and focused on honoring our nation as well as those who have died in its service. Here’s a brief photo narrative of the day:


Governor Jack Dalrymple and his wife Betsy hosted the event.
 


The Mandan High School Concert Choir provided stirring music, with my friend Becca at the piano.
 


US Senator John Hoeven gave his remarks.
 


US Congressman Rick Berg also spoke.
 


Bismarck City Commissioner Mike Seminary represented the City of Bismarck.
 


Mandan City Commissioner Dennis Rohr. Of course, I’ll always know him as Chief.
 


The Governor and First Lady stand with Senator Hoeven during the presentation of a wreath to commemorate the day. Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley is looking on in the foreground.
 


Bismarck Police Chief Keith Witt spoke on behalf of first responders.
 


Lincoln Police Officer Marcel Sim gave an account of that day,
when he was working at Ground Zero for the NYPD.
 


Maj. General Spry has thousands of soldiers fighting not only the Global War on Terrorism
but also natural disasters here at home.
 


Lt. Colonel Dean Eckmann described going to battle stations and flying CAP sorties
over Washington DC that day with the NDNG Happy Hooligans.
 


Jenette Nelson spoke of the loss of her daughter and how her memory lives on.
 


Paul Goodiron gave perhaps the most stirring speech of the day, honoring not only those who serve but also the families who serve with them and endure their loss.
 


The Patriot Guard Riders had a presentation of their own to the office of the Governor.
 


First responders from fire, ambulance, and local law enforcement were in attendance to commemorate the day as well. I got to hang out with one of my favorite law enforcement friends and take photos.
 


One popular part of the day was a Blackhawk helicopter on the capitol mall, available for all to see.  Its crew were on hand to answer questions and explain the operation of the aircraft.
 


Then it was time to go home, tribute given and memories shared.

Late visit to the National 9/11 flag

Back in mid-August the National 9/11 Flag made a stop in North Dakota as part of the organization’s mission to visit all fifty states. There was a ceremony and even the opportunity for folks to nominate someone in advance for stitching the flag. I made an appeal for folks to nominate Sgt. Steve Kenner with the PD choosing representatives on his behalf. Apparently some of you did, because that’s precisely what happened. I received an email from the organization saying that they received a lot of nominations on his behalf.

Sadly, I had to work and wasn’t able to see the ceremony, but I did get a chance to visit the flag (and put in a stitch of my own) prior to its departure. Here are a few quick photos for those of you who weren’t able to attend.

Patches from the other states who the flag has already visited are marked by standing cards giving a little bit of information about the state’s participation.

Here’s the area where North Dakota’s patch is located and where the stitches were applied.

One stitch at a time, they say. This is actually the top edge of the flag. I believe the patches come from retired flags which have flown in North Dakota.

One patch in particular goes almost unnoticed, but someone from the organization pointed it out to me as “the Lincoln patch.” It’s hard to see from the edge of the flag, but thanks to a 300mm lens, I can give you a closer look:

If I recall correctly, this is a patch from the flag which was draped over the casket of President Abraham Lincoln when he was buried. How’s that for a piece of history?

I suppose it’s somewhat appropriate timing to finally post this on the weekend of the tenth anniversary of that fateful day. It wasn’t my intention, I’m just late as usual. You can find out more about the national 9/11 flag by clicking here. You can read the program from the ceremony in Word format by clicking here (maybe I can convert it to PDF later).

Nominate Sgt Steve Kenner as a Service Hero on the National 911 Flag website

The New York Says Thank You Foundation is sending a National 9/11 Flag around the country to have it stitched back to its original format after being damaged during the terrorist attacks ten years ago. Commemorative patches are sewn on in each state. This flag will be in Bismarck on August 12th and they are looking for nominations of local service heroes to help stitch the flag.

Click here to visit the Nominate a Service Hero page on the national 911flag.org website, and you can do what I did: nominate the Bismarck Police Department on behalf of Sergeant Kenner.

Fill out the form with your information and a description of what Sergeant Kenner’s service and the Bismarck Police Department mean to you. Tell them that you wish to ask the Bismarck Police Department choose a representative to participate on Sergeant Kenner’s behalf and in his memory.

For “Their email” you can enter “bismarckpd@nd.gov” and for “Their phone number” enter “701-223-1212”. That will ensure that inquiries from the organization reach the Bismarck Police Department.

Here’s a link to the poster for the event (PDF): Click Here

Here’s a link to the press release for the National 9/11 Flag (PDF): Click Here

Spread the word, let our local law enforcement know that we stand with them, and help honor a local hero!

Bismarck bids another sad and unexpected farewell

The city of Bismarck has lost another member, one who served not only in the Public Works department but also as a state senator and leader. Services are being held today for Senator Bob Stenehjem, the senator from my district. If you live in south Bismarck, chances are he was your senator too.

Condolences to the Stenehjem family and the many others…family, friends, coworkers, and fellow legislators who will feel his loss.

Bismarck says goodbye…and how you can nominate a hero

Hundreds of area citizens joined hundreds of law enforcement officers on Thursday for a memorial service honoring slain Sergeant Steve Kenner of the Bismarck Police Department. The number of people attending, uniformed and civilian, was larger than any local church could hold.

Mayor Warford gave remarks honoring Sgt Kenner’s service, saying that his stature as a man was paralleled by his stature as an officer and member of the community.

Chief Witt expressed that even now he’s learning of things Sgt. Kenner did in this community that touched the lives of Bismarck citizens, things that nobody knew he did until the letters began pouring in at the Police Department over the last week.

Back when I was just a kid hanging out at the police department control room at any opportunity, Craig Sjoberg was one of my favorite officers. He also offered his personal recollections of Sgt. Kenner.

I was encouraged at the sight of many of my fellow citizens who came, like me, to join in support of all those grieving. Things like this make a fella proud of the community…

Just as the sight of people lining the streets along the route of the procession. It was an emotional thing, seeing people slowly arrive and display flags, flowers, even handmade signs of support. When the procession began, despite the number of people waiting at this intersection, downtown Bismarck was SILENT. It was a very moving experience.

One reason why Bismarck enjoys a low crime rate is because of its professional police department and officers like Sergeant Kenner who risk their safety to protect ours. Another is because of a community that will band together in support of those officers. People lined Fifth Street, Main Avenue, the Memorial Bridge, all along the route to the Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery. I was told that afternoon by people who were in the procession that the show of the community was amazing and really meant a lot.


I put together a little video of part of the procession with the audio of A Hero’s Last Call. This audio was among the most stirring things I’ve ever heard, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the Civic Center as it played.

Bismarck surely has suffered a tragic loss, one I hope we never forget. What can we do to help honor the memory of Bismarck’s lone fallen police officer? I think I have an idea:

The New York Says Thank You Foundation is sending a National 9/11 Flag around the country to have it stitched back to its original format after being damaged during the terrorist attacks ten years ago. Commemorative patches are sewn on in each state. This flag will be in Bismarck on August 12th and they are looking for nominations of local service heroes to help stitch the flag.

Click here to visit the Nominate a Service Hero page on the national 911flag.org website, and you can do what I did: nominate the Bismarck Police Department on behalf of Sergeant Kenner.

Fill out the form with your information and a description of what Sergeant Kenner’s service and the Bismarck Police Department mean to you. Tell them that you wish to ask the Bismarck Police Department choose a representative to participate on Sergeant Kenner’s behalf and in his memory.

For “Their email” you can enter “bismarckpd@nd.gov” and for phone number “701-223-1212”. That will ensure that inquiries from the organization reach the Bismarck Police Department.

Here’s a link to the poster for the event (PDF): Click Here

Here’s a link to the press release for the National 9/11 Flag (PDF): Click Here

Spread the word, let our local law enforcement know that we stand with them, and help honor a local hero!

Flying at half-staff for Sergeant Kenner

I took my little boys out for a bicycle ride on the Memorial Bridge last night and took in the sight of the flags flying at half-staff per Mayor Warford’s declaration. It’s been moving to see the outpouring of support for Sergeant Steve Kenner since some worthless piece of crap gunned him down on Friday.

A Facebook page has been set up for people to pay their respects and it already has over three thousand fans. That goes to show the kind of community we have, where people rightfully hold dear the men and women who risk their safety to protect ours.

One thing that makes this so infuriating is the fact that Sgt. Kenner has been a well-known part of Bismarck for decades. Anybody who was a teenage driver within the last thirty years knew of Officer Kenner. In fact, he was an expert in traffic enforcement and, as a young motorcyclist, that’s how I encountered him most frequently.

I remember sitting at a red light with FOREVER on one of my motorcycles many years ago, late at night, with Officer Kenner (he made Sergeant in 2000) behind my friends and me in his patrol car. I let the light go through a few cycles without turning the light green in the left turning lane which I occupied, looked over my shoulder at Officer Kenner to convey my intentions, and looked back ahead as I proceeded through the light. Naturally I saw red strobes in my mirrors a few seconds later!

Since I used to build the type of inductive loop sensors that the traffic signals used when I worked at the DOT, I knew that the one beneath my bike was unaffected by the large amounts of aluminum, titanium, and magnesium in the motorcycle. They’re not very effective on these sensors. I explained my case to Sgt. Kenner and he agreed with my explanation, and we parted ways. I thought that was quite fair. Then he wrote up one of the guys I was riding with for not having proof of liability insurance.

I read in the Tribune that Sgt. Kenner performed a lot of noteworthy feats in his career, saving lives and performing rescues. He received many commendations and awards, as the newspaper and TV articles will tell you…but he was more than that. He was a part of Bismarck that you just always expect to be there. Then along comes some good-for-nothing jackhole who, for no reason at all, takes him from us. I’m being as careful as I can with my words because I’m very angry, and clearly many others in our community are as well.

I’m sure there will be many things said in heartfelt remembrance of Sergeant Steve Kenner, I think the most meaningful I can articulate is what I said above: Sergeant Steve Kenner had a PLACE in this community. Only he could fill it. You didn’t have to know him personally to be glad that he was in that place, and you don’t have to have known him personally to be furious that his place is now occupied only by his memory.

It’s no secret that I’m a passionate advocate for local law enforcement. I’ve participated in ride-alongs, had the privilege of attending the Citizens’ Police Academy, I was a first lieutenant in the Mandan Police Explorers youth club and spent lots of time helping in the control room of the Mandan LEC before leaving for college. I have a great deal of respect for the men and women who serve in law enforcement, and I pray for them daily. I encourage you to do the same; don’t let it take a tragedy like this to get you to that point.

As we offer prayers on behalf of Sergeant Kenner’s family, let’s remember the others who mourn his loss as well as those who continue to serve on a daily basis to keep our communities safe. They work long, hard jobs dealing with people you and I would loathe or fear, and they do it without recognition. Please give them your support daily as they continue to perform their duty even in the shadow of this terrible tragedy.

Busy day at the Memorial

I didn’t think I’d make it to the memorial at the capitol today, but I did. I had plenty of company. Showing up twenty minutes early turned out to be a pretty good plan, as it really packed in with people (including a LOT of kids) waiting to see the phenomenon!

This is the circular beam of light which is cast by the sun thanks to a tube in the side of the memorial (see the post immediately below this one). At 11:00 it is centered on North Dakota, which is a raised and somewhat polished portion of brass on the globe in the monument’s center.

The globe itself has seen better days. The brass North Dakota is tarnished and needs to be polished & coated. There are also bird droppings on it, something I figured would be corrected before Veterans’ Day arrived. I figured wrong. If a volunteer is needed, I’ll put my name on the list.

This was a neat event, but let’s not forget that today is about the nation’s soldiers. Please read on to the post below this one for more on that. Thank every veteran and soldier you encounter today!

On this day of remembrance

I’m sure many of you will recognize the All Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the North Dakota state capitol. With today being Veterans’ Day, there will be a lot of visitors here. This memorial does something special on this day, although a cloudy day may hamper that a little. So far the forecast has been wrong and the skies are clear, so perhaps all can proceed as planned.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the top of this memorial is only square on the outside; the inside is a spherical dome. That’s important for many reasons, which are evident when you’re there. At the center of the monument is a globe on a pedestal.

As the placard describes, something special happens here at 11 o’clock on the eleventh hour of the eleventh month every year, in commemoration of Veterans’ Day.

At precisely that time, the rays of the sun travel down this hole in the dome of the monument, beaming their way directly toward the globe at its center. I was kinda hoping that someone would be able to clean that stain off the wall where water sometimes drips through the tunnel.

On the globe, North Dakota is raised and polished above the surrounding terrain. The light of the sun strikes it directly for a brief period of time every Veterans’ Day at 11 am, lighting it up for those in attendance.

I’m not sure my schedule will allow me to attend today, so I thought I’d share some images of this phenomenon from years past. Judging by the number of people waiting to catch a glimpse of this once-a-year happening, I can see it’s no secret.

This is the base upon which the globe sits. Note that the inscription says “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day.” That’s significant because World War I ended at 11:00 on 11/11/1918.

In addition to this memorial and the ones at each end of the new Memorial Bridge, there is also the Global War on Terror Memorial in west Bismarck. Sadly, names have been added to the roster here in 2010 as we continue to stand vigilant against terrorist adversaries.

Dedicated on September 11th, this memorial specifically honors those who have sacrificed all in the war on global terrorism. While September 11th is of important significance at this memorial, so too is November 11th. In my opinion we can’t have enough days honoring our soldiers. 365 per year seems about right.

Today is about one thing: remembrance of the American soldier. Millions have served this great nation over the past couple hundred years and every one of them sacrificed a great deal, even if they didn’t lose their life or suffer physical injury in battle. We should hold them in high regard and thank them for the freedoms we enjoy because of their commitment to duty. Regardless of whether the sun appears today these Memorials are always worth a visit. Then take some time to peruse the names on those metal placards and consider the men and women who protect this great nation.

I’d like to pass along my personal thanks to all veterans and their families, who sacrifice along with them. Closest to me are my friends Reed and Tony, although I’ve met many others and owe my freedom to millions of ’em. Military service is not something to be taken lightly, and neither is the sacrifice of a soldier’s family. Today’s a good day to take some time and express our thanks.

Bismarck-Mandan will never forget: Global War on Terror Memorial (service today at 2pm)

By now you’re likely to have seen the signs declaring the location of the state’s Global War On Terrorism memorial. It’s just off Memorial Highway, adjacent to the entrance of the Fraine Barracks complex (named after late Brigadier General John H. Fraine). In fact, it’s just a stone’s throw away from the Liberty Memorial Bridge.

This beautiful memorial stands prominently to help ensure that we remember what’s at stake in this 21st century war. It’s a memorial to North Dakota military personnel who perished during the Global War on Terrorism. In fact, it was dedicated this very day last year.

I was especially pleased to see the term “GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM” on this monument because so many pusillanimous liberal multi-culturalist apologists, in their suicidal quest to love our enemies and hate our nation and its allies, have abhorred this term since its inception. Our current President, for example, has ordered that the term not be used in the federal government. North Dakotans, however, see it for what it is.


All gave some. Some gave all. Some names are about to be added here…
 

At 2pm today there will be a service honoring three more fallen North Dakota soldiers. The Patriot Guard Riders will be in attendance. Sadly I cannot be among them today as I have a freelance job scheduled all day. Afterward I’ll still try to find time to stop by and ponder their sacrifice. You may wish to spend a little time this September 11th to do the same.