On Sunday afternoon I was honoured to attend the British Columbia Law Enforcement Memorial at Brockton Oval in Stanley Park. Annually, the ceremony is held in memory of those who gave their lives in the service of British Columbia and its citizens.
Approximately 600 law enforcement personnel have died in Canada since Confederation, 119 of them in B.C., the most recent being RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett last spring.
The parade assembled at HMCS Discovery and marched along the seawall and into the park, led by mounted members of the Vancouver Police, and filled in the oval in front of the citizens and dignitaries.
The greens, reds and yellows of the tartans of the three pipe bands, the Mounties’ red serge and the dress tunics of the officers blended well with the backdrop of the fall trees and presented a very dramatic scene for the sombre occasion.
Following remarks by chief officers and political attendees, four of the youngest members of each municipal and federal agency read the 119 names of those who have died in the line of duty in B.C. since 1867.
The bugle sounds last post and the notes ring out in the crisp fall air and float endlessly out across the harbour, followed by a rifle salute, Amazing Grace and families laying wreaths. A very poignant ceremony.
As the parade assembles and begins the march past, I notice that the third division of officers have been placed between the Seattle Police Pipe band and the Delta Police Pipe band, both playing different tunes with different beats and marching in time has become difficult.
As one of them said to me later, “We gave up and it just became a Sunday walk in the park.”
How often does that happen to us, trying to march to different drummers at the same time? The staccato snare drum of our children, ratatatat, ratatatat — “When’s dinner ready Mom; can you drive me to school; can you lend me some cash?”
No matter how old they get they march along with us, always there providing that quick step-up beat in our lives.
Then there is our social life and our friends, the snappy tenor drums banging out — “Let’s go for lunch; you don’t call any more; where have you been?” We are tired; we are busy; we are sick — there is an endless supply of excuses for not going out or connecting, and the drum beat echoes in the back of our mind.
Then there is the bass drum, representing everything else. Boom, boom, boom, work, produce, worry, work, produce, worry. Most times this beat is louder than all the rest and drowns out everything else in our lives and we march to that drum more than any other.
That becomes our day, trying to listen to all these different drummers and hop step trying to keep in beat with each one and we lose the steady cadence we started out with.
Then one day, as for so many of those people gathered in that oval, you kiss your spouse goodbye, send them off to work, and during the day a call comes and tells you they won’t be coming home again.
The pipes die down, the drums stop and all becomes silent.
When the drums get confusing and you can’t stay in step, quit marching and turn it into a walk in the park. At least that’s what McGregor says.