Officers and Citizens Mingle Grief with Pride in Trooper Salute

By Roy Tant

They came from four corners of the nation. They came in groups of twos, threes, fours and in large contingents. They were sheriffs, deputies, marshals, city police officers, security officers, state police, plainclothes detectives and every other category of law enforcement officer this nation employs to keep the peace and preserve the common welfare of mankind.

They all had one purpose, locked in a bond of unity that only those who take the oath of office can understand: to pay homage to three men who had made the greatest sacrifice - who laid down their lives in performance of their sworn duties.

They came from as far away as Rhode Island and California. They came from Alabama and Mississippi. They came from Utah and Maryland. And they came from so many other states and cities throughout this nation that they shall have to remain countless as well as nameless.

And in another wing of the state capitol rotunda that memorable Sunday, citizens who had no law enforcement connection, other than their appreciation and compassion, sat or stood in unprecedented numbers to pay last respects to three brave men.

It was the saddest of days, brought even more sharply into perspective because it was Memorial weekend. But, even as grief took command and the crowd swelled to proportions that overflowed the first floor rotunda to the second and then the third, there was a feeling that murder and crime in this country - alarming as it has become - must take a back seat this day to the basic good inborn in overwhelming numbers of Americans.

"Pappy" Summers, Billy Young and Pat Grimes still lived on this somber Sunday. They lived in the thoughts of all those who had assembled to pay them homage; they lived in the thoughts of countless others who were unable to attend the services.

They still lived, too, in the hearts of their comrades whose compassion for loved ones of the three slain men was somehow absorbed by a feeling of pride and camaraderie known only to those who have worn a badge.

It was a sorrowful day for Oklahoma and the nation, but it was also a day which saw Oklahoma raise her stately head in fierce pride.

Three sons were pulling their last patrol, but a nation of sons (and daughters) was going with them as far as it could, head held high, pride burning in its breast.

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