November 28, 2016
“The living owe it to those who no longer can speak to tell their story for them,” reads Czeslaw Milosz’s “The Issa Valley.”
It’s funny, that sometimes people do not recognize another person until they are no longer alive.
Right now our city and our campus remembers the one-year anniversary of the former UCCS police officer Garrett Swasey, who was killed in the line of duty to protect our city from Robert Dear at the Planned Parenthood clinic on Nov. 27.
It was clear after the memorial services and vigils held in his honor that this man was no ordinary person.
On Nov. 18 this year, Swasey was honored at the 31st Medal of Valor Luncheon with a Police Award.
Swasey was also honored at the first UCCS men’s basketball home game on Nov. 28 at the First Responders Appreciation Night in the Gallogly Events Center.
Through media, memorial services, basketball games, scholarships, bracelets and any words mentioned to honor Swasey’s life, we can share more about his leadership, character and see how he will continue to leave his footprint long after his passing.
Nov. 27 of last year may have been the biggest spotlight in news that UCCS would ever receive nationally, as unfortunate as a reason it was, it shed a light on the man who stepped up in the line of duty.
It seems that as a culture, we tend to remember and honor people after they pass away. But we should recognize men and women, those who are kind-hearted and compassionate, not just in a time of need, but as our current leaders: those we look up to in our lives.
Admiring the good deeds of the brave should happen everyday, not just when someone is unfortunately taken from us. It’s important that we also recognize a person’s character.
Going into a situation knowing death is a possibility to protect strangers speaks to Swasey’s character, but so did what we might consider to be the unnoticed parts of his life.
A statement released on Nov. 29, 2015 by Rachel Swasey, the wife of the fallen police officer, thanked everyone for their support and let everyone know who Swasey was outside of being an officer.
“His greatest joys were his family, his church, and his profession. We will cherish his memory, especially those times he spent tossing the football to his son and snuggling with his daughter on the couch,” she said in her statement.
“Helping others brought him deep satisfaction and being a police officer was a part of him. In the end, his last act was for the safety and well-being of others and was a tribute to his life.”
Whether it’s someone like Swasey or a person in our life that we admire for who they are to us, those people have helped us in big and small situations in our times of need. Luckily for our community, Swasey was there in its need for a police officer willing to put his life at risk.
All of these make Swasey who is he, not just the fact that he rose to the occasion in a dangerous situation.
Officers like Swasey are the type of people that we, as college students, should strive to become. It doesn’t have to be a noble act in the time of crisis that can change someone’s life for the better.
Something as simple as inviting someone to lunch or paying for another person’s coffee can make that difference.
We thank Swasey for his service and dedication to his community as we reflect on the sorrow we feel from last year’s events.