Sacrifice is defined in part as suffering a loss of, giving up of, renouncing, injuring , or destroying one’s self, especially for an ideal or belief. Over the individual course of our members’ careers as sworn/retired police officers, but especially since the formation of Brothers Before Others in 2014, we have all borne witness to the selflessness of those who protect this country, both home and abroad.
Originally set up as a National Flower Fund, ensuring that flowers were sent to the services of every line of duty death regardless of where in the country they occurred, BBO has grown into so much more. The law enforcement community encompasses approximately 800,000 currently sworn personnel. Their families have ties to the community that transcend being a police officer. The attacks on civil servants, whether it’s from the ones they serve or the politicians degrading the service or enacting laws negatively impacting them, every branch of the military and every form of civil service has found themselves fighting for the respect that should be theirs by right. The result has caused the benevolence that was once specific to each individual profession and blended the lines. The line between those who serve/support those who serve vs. the ingrates has never been clearer.
Earlier this month, days before the were expected to return home, three United States Marines were killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb.
Corporal Robert A Hendriks – 25
Sergeant Benjamin S Hines – 31
Staff Sergeant Christopher K.A. Slutman – 43
Of the three that were killed, two had ties to New York City, the FDNY and the NYPD.
Staff Sgt Slutman was not only a US Marine since 2005, he was also a decorated 15-year veteran of the FDNY, most recently assigned to Engine 46/Ladder 27 in the Bronx, aka ‘The Cross Bronx Express”. In 2014, Chris was recognized by the City of New York for rescuing an unconscious woman from a burning South Bronx building.
Long Island resident, Corporal Hendriks, is the son of (ret) NYPD Detective Erik Hendriks. Robert’s brother, Joseph, is also a US Marine and both had recently deployed in 2018. Described by his father as “the perfect son” who proudly served his country, Robert joined the Marine Corps. in 2012.
At the 2014 funeral services for NYPD Detective Wenjian Liu, then Police Commissioner William Bratton lamented:
“In the days after Detectives Liu and Ramos were assassinated, murdered for their
color, slain because they were blue, I visited their families and learned what
profoundly good men they were. And I found myself wondering “why do we
always lose the good ones?”
Until I realized: it’s the law of averages. Almost all of them are the good ones. Our
cops are people just like Wenjian and Rafael. They, too, share a belief in what’s
possible and a desire to serve.”
Our civil servants and military represent the best of us: perfect imperfection in constant pursuit of sacrifice and selflessness. In these three United States Marines, you have much of the same; “good ones”. You have a Marine who served his community in two capacities, both as a soldier and fireman. You have a family centered around sacrifice, with two brothers serving as soldiers and a father as a police officer.
Since 2016 and the one year anniversary of the assassination of Philadelphia Police Officer Robert Wilson, Philadelphia Police Officer/Forensic Sketch Artist/BBO Partner Jonny Castro has been doing portraits of fallen police officers and American heroes. Because our charity’s reach is national, we have been able to ensure that a large percentage of his portraits reach the families and coworkers in the same manner that we do our work, face to face and hand to hand.
On Thursday, BBO Founder/President Michael Burke and a contingent of BBO members attended the wake of Staff Sgt Slutman and hand delivered Chris’ portrait to his widow, Shannon. The 20×26 portrait created by Jonny was then displayed at the wake, as well as the floral arrangement sent by our National Flower Fund.
While Corporal Hendriks was not a police officer, his father was. In fact, retired NYPD/BBO Board Member Rob O’Donnell has close ties with people who worked with Erik. As such, BBO ensured that our National Flower Fund sent a floral arrangement to Cpl Hendriks’ services.
In addition, Rob asked that Jonny complete a portrait of Corporal Hendriks, which he would then ensure was hand delivered to the Hendriks family. Since the portrait and delivery was intended to be a complete surprise, finding the right time and place to deliver Jonny’s work was complex. What a perfect time for a ‘Godincidence’.
For those that are part of BBO or have followed our group, it’s common knowledge that Michael and, by proxy, this group has been largely guided and influenced by the life of NYPD Detective Steven McDonald. Steven attended a few BBO events, one of which was in his honor. He saw the work that was getting done and had expressed his pride in Michael and the group. Detective McDonald often made references to “Godincidences”, stating that there is no such thing coincidence. Steven felt that God puts you where you are supposed to be, exactly when you are supposed to be there.
As Michael sat with his members yesterday, staged and waiting to meet with Shannon Slutman, as if Steven is always watching, he found himself in the same room alone with the Hendriks family.
Thank you, Steven.
This morning, after attending Chris’ wake yesterday and then working his midnight tour, Jersey City Police Sergeant/US Marine/BBO Member Collin Congleton then drove out to Long Island so that Erik and his family would have their portrait before Rob’s brother Joe redeploys tomorrow. Erik said, “It’s a beautiful portrait. My entire family thanks Jonny. It’s a feel good portrait reminding me that there are still some of US out there and that means so much. Robby is surely looking down and smiling.”
It needs to be said how strong these families are. Less than 24 hours after burying his own son, Erik and his family were at Chris’ wake, supporting Shannon and the Slutman family. The fraternity that exists between those who serve their community and their country is unlike anything else out there in any profession.
The days of the perceived rivalry between the different forms of civil service are officially over. The disrespect from those we serve and the politicians who SHOULD BE serving and protecting us have effected us all equally. Just last week we even saw that nurses aren’t safe.
There is no grey area anymore. There is no room to fence sit. You either support America’s military and civil servants or you do not. The devaluing of the worth of those who serve has increased exponentially; usually initiated by a thankless and sheltered youth who hasn’t ‘served’ anything other than lattes and essential oils.
Whether you serve home or abroad, we are all one; one family; one fight.
BBO would like to take this opportunity to thank the Slutman, Hendriks and Hines families. The sacrifices made by your sons/brothers, as well as the sacrifices that you will make every day forward, will never be taken for granted nor forgotten here.
A scholarship fund has been set up to support the children of Christopher Slutman
To donate, please follow the link below and be sure to choose the
‘FF Christopher Slutman’s Children’s Education Fund’
Or checks can be mailed to:
C/O FF Christopher Slutman’s Children’s Education Fund
9 MetroTech Center Room 5E-9
Brooklyn, New York 11201
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