Friday, June 10, 2016

Memphis Sea of Blue

Yesterday, Memphis paid tribute to fallen Officer Verdell Smith. Bryan and I got a chance to see the Sea of Blue drive from Hope Pres to the downtown precinct last night. We were driving eastbound on Poplar Ave when we saw a firetruck and a few cars pulled over. We circled around and parked. Bryan backed the car in while I talked briefly with a fireman. We agreed that while it was sad to have to have a Sea of Blue, it was very touching to see so many Memphians support the police officers. We waited silently as the sun peacefully set over the Memphis horizon. The folks who had pulled over were watching, their patience giving a hint at what were about to witness. Southbound traffic on I-240 had almost stopped minus a few stragglers while northbound traffic had started slowing down. We could see everyone who had begun to stop on the westbound side on Poplar Ave on the bridge:


Then, in the distance, we saw the beginnings of the procession. A true sea of blue was heading our way. As they got closer, we began to see details – Memphis police officers, West Memphis officers, Southaven officers, Germantown officers, and an endless line of police officers from places we couldn’t identify. All had their lights on and their sirens chirping. They were using their loud speakers to thank those of us standing silently in tribute to Officer Smith and in support for those still living who risk their lives daily so we might stay safe. One asked for prayer. The firefighters were now standing at attention on top of their trucks, saluting the procession. 

We watched as vehicle after vehicle drove under the bridge. By this time, traffic on Poplar was almost at a standstill. I could see people who had pulled into businesses bordering I-240 in order to be able to watch the officers drive by. Thirty minutes went by before the last of the vehicles straggled past. The solemnness we experienced went beyond the tribute paid to Officer Smith. It extended into the realization of what our Memphis officers do for us day in and day out on our streets and the price they pay for it. 

We complain a lot as a society and we have the right to do that. We complain when we get pulled over for speeding, or when we hear about the corruption that seems to have permeated the Memphis police department. We should always keep in mind, though, that while misconduct exists in our legal system, honor also exists in that same system. We have officers who take their vows seriously and will do whatever it takes to ensure we are protected in a city that doesn’t have a reputation for always being safe.

I uploaded a video I took of the procession. Please pardon my video-taking skills. I had been holding my phone up to video everything, but I wasn’t looking through the lens so occasionally it kind of meanders off depending on what was going on at the time. I did pan over at some point to catch the sight of the firefighters saluting the officers. I thought I had gotten the entire motorcade, but after we got back into the car, we saw a few more. 

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