I didn’t choose to be a member of the Thin Blue Line, it chose me. Growing up my father was a proud United States Army veteran who supported our men and women in blue. As an adult, I am choosing to share my life with a man who is a kind, honest upstanding citizen. A man who also happens to be a police officer.

We are living in a world where men and women are performing a career that is a calling, a thankless job that could take their lives at any moment. Our mainstream media is constantly villainizing our police officers. There are the black sheep in every profession but cop-bashing, especially on social media, is a great injustice to the whole force and their families. We often forget that our police have a job to do, rain or shine, and they are at our beck and call 24 hours a day. What many refuse to see is all the good our men and women in blue do. 

My Dad was a proud United States Army veteran who worked two jobs much of his life. He had a strong work ethic and bled blue. Towards the end of my father’s life it was difficult for him to leave the house. One of his last outings was when he proudly stood in the courthouse as my better half took his oath to serve and protect. That August afternoon my Dad posted on his Facebook page, “Proud moment in our family, just witnessed my future son in law take an oath to serve and protect as Lisa stood by his side.”  

On January 17, 2016 my Dad passed after a long battle with Stage IV base of the tongue cancer. His funeral was four days later. Friends and family tell me it was a beautiful funeral. For me it was like an out of body experience. When I saw my father’s lifeless body I cried enough tears to fill the Hoover Dam. Family viewing time ended and the room began to fill with countless guests. As I sat next to my mother I felt like a Jack in the box getting up and down to hug people. People with tears brimming in their eyes. Grown men weeping over the loss of a great friend. I began to see the massive impact my father had on so many people, some people I never even met.

As I scanned the room, I began to feel a great sense of pride. I realized these people drove from near and far to pay respects to my father. A four hour car ride to say your final goodbyes to a friend is nothing short of magnificent. These people loved my father and were taking time out of their busy lives to pay their respects and offer condolences to Al’s girls.

What happened next was truly amazing. I was making my way to the ladies room and I saw a group of uniformed police officers. Please understand I felt like a Clydesdale horse walking around with blinders on. I walked directly into the officer and he proceeded to hug me and offer me his condolences. Wait what?  I rubbed my eyes and realized that this officer was one of my boyfriend’s officers. These men all took time out of their busy schedules to drive to headquarters, put their uniforms on and then drive another hour to my father’s wake. One by one each officer walked to my mother then my father’s casket and paid their respects. I was overcome with gratitude and pride, I watched the entire room grow silent and observe a single file of uniformed police officers pay their final respects to my Dad. I was moved to tears of pride.

It was at that time I was positive I felt my father touch my shoulder. I know he was proud.

The outpouring of love and grief was apparent throughout the evening and into the burial the next day. My father had an amazing send off, complete with The NJ State Police guiding our procession to the cemetery (special thanks to my brother in law) and the United States Army playing Taps at my father’s grave commemorating his service.

These are days that I will never forget. They were the saddest days of my life, but they also opened my eyes to the kindness of others. Kindness that police officers, some of whom my Dad never met gave my family. Kindness that was given to us during a time when we had nothing to offer. 

You never forget the people who pay their respects to a deceased loved one. I will never forget the officers who came in full uniform to pay their final respects to my Dad and give my father a hero’s send off. I hope their behavior will help me to display acts of kindness towards others and remember that under the uniform is someone’s loved one performing a tireless job. 

To our men and women in blue, your job is incredibly exhausting and demanding, you deserve to know that your work is appreciated. You have made a difference in countless lives. You have made a difference in my life. Thank you.

Lisa Ingrassia

Lisa is the Director of Events at Zenith Marketing Group, an insurance brokerage firm located in Freehold, NJ. She is passionate about sharing her father’s journey with cancer and bringing attention the difficult path a caregiver must walk. She has written guest articles for the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders, The Mighty & Her View From Home. She is also a guest blogger for The Huffington Post. Fun fact: She’s obsessed with her Boston terrier Diesel and loves the color blue.