Last Friday I was present as the local community paid tribute to a law enforcement officer who had died after a long fight against cancer. I'll be part of the local Relay For Life supporting your American Cancer Society later this spring because I have personally been touched so many times by cancer. What I want to talk about though is this hero and the people who loved him. I'm living in a relatively small town these days, and so it is much more common to know many people in different parts of town. I don't think I have ever seen such a huge turnout though, except for celebrities.
The day began at a local church, where every seat was filled and the mourners even stretched out the front doors and spilled onto the sidewalks outside. Next there was a special luncheon, and the number in attendance was even larger. Immediately after the lunch, there was a civic memorial and the number of folks had doubled. Men and women in uniform were present, with family and friends and folks who barely knew him. Tribute after tribute said the same thing - this was a kind and caring man who loved his family, his God, his community, and his friends.
What really impressed me was how many people came out and the diversity in the crowd. A deputy sheriff died - not some horrible crime related death while performing his duties, but a slow and painful death from disease. People weren't talking about how his life ended though - they spoke of how it was lived, and boy was it lived!