To the Editor:
Sometime in 2014, the Oregon State Police Fallen Trooper Memorial will be dedicated. Engraved upon the face of the memorial are the words “they shall neither shun responsibility nor shrink from duty in the face of danger.” The phrase is taken from the OSP Manual, and every person who has ever worn the badge has lived (and some have died) by those words. Those who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, soon found other employment. Those words were our contract with the people of Oregon. Other emergency services have their own verbal commitment to those they serve. The phrase “to protect and serve” comes to mind, and there are others as well.
Those of us who retired from service kept our sworn promise to those we served. Too bad the elected leadership of the state of Oregon has chosen to break their promise to us regarding our retirement. And let me be clear about this; for me, it is not about the money. The few dollars per month I’ll lose won’t change my life or lifestyle. But the sting from the slap in the face won’t soon go away.
People who serve in the fields of emergency services will spend most of their careers working days, nights, weekends and holidays, missing a host of other activities enjoyed by people who work “normal” hours. We knew the drill before we signed on. But how do you tell your children they can’t have friends over because mom or dad is sleeping? Or that even though it is their day off, they had to go to court today. What is proper compensation to make up for missed recitals, ball games and maybe even graduations? You do what you do because the people you serve respect your service and sacrifice. Or not! I won’t bring political parties into this conversation because both parties want to slap me in the face. The only question is, how hard will the slap be?
You might get the impression that I am a bitter old man regarding my career. But you’d be wrong. To this day, I’d recommend that any person should go ahead with that career choice. You’ll do more good for Oregonians in a month than most will do in a lifetime. But if you do make emergency services your career, do it for yourself; because it is something you really want to do. But don’t be surprised if, somewhere down the road, you, too, get slapped in the face. It all boils down to “what have you done for me lately?”
Wayne A. Moreland