Brothers Before Others Brings a Piece of the “Walk to Remember” to Washington DC

Every year, Brothers Before Others co-hosts “A Walk to Remember”, a 5k memorial walk in Jersey City, NJ, held in honor of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

While each year’s walk focuses on the line of duty deaths from the year prior, there are friends, family and co-workers who come and walk on behalf of those who have died the current year, as well as years prior. In fact, the 2018 walk hosted a family who was walking on behalf of Detective Thomas S. Adubato of the Newark Police Department (NJ) who was killed in 1918.

The centerpiece of every year’s walk are the individual cards made in honor of every officer killed the year prior or whose family is attending and walking on their behalf.

Every person who walks is asked to carry a card, which displays the officer’s name, rank, department and end of watch date. If family of the officer attend, naturally, that family is invited to carry their loved one’s card. BBO even ensures that K9’s are included.

At the completion of each walk, families, some who have traveled from as far as Texas, California and Detroit, are invited to retain their loved ones card. BBO founder Michael Burke then ensures that the remaining cards are secured.

These cards then travel with the BBO members who are attending the FOP Tent City as part of ‘Police Week’ in Washington, DC. Similar to the “Walk to Remember”, for ‘Police Week’, families of fallen officers travel from all over the country, on a much larger scale, ┬áin honor of their lost loved ones. Upon arrival, these families are given lanyards signifying that they are a family member, friend, co-worker of someone who was killed in the line of duty.

While manning the tent, BBO members keep a keen eye out for these lanyards. Once one is spotted, one of our members will invite the family to our tent, where they are offered the very same card that was carried in honor of their lost family member at the ‘Walk to Remember”.

Almost always, the fact that these cards even exist come as a shock to the families. Inevitably, after explaining who BBO is, what the “Walk to Remember” is, and what the cards represent, the family is shocked to know that someone who they never met carried a card on behalf of their loved one. In a lot of ways, by doing what we do as a group, that is exactly what BBO’s message is: even when you think no one cares, no one remembers or no one is thinking about you, we are.

Once we get past the initial formalities and shock, inevitably families find themselves talking; sometimes it’s about themselves and how far they’ve traveled; sometimes it’s about how impressed they are at what they’ve experienced both at ‘Police Week’ and Tent City; more often than not, however, families will begin talking about their loved ones. By virtue of the meetings these cards facilitate, our members are blessed with the opportunity to hear first person stories about who this person was, how this person lived and just how sorely they are missed.

Of all of the humbling experiences our members are given by attending “Police Week’ each year, few even approach these meetings and conversations. It is our hope and prayer that these chance meetings offer the families some measure of peace. We hope that they are reminded that they are never alone and that the sacrifice they continue to make is never taken for granted. It is that very same hope that drives the members of BBO.

 

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