Opinion: Thankful to be Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving
Growing up, I always took Thanksgiving for granted.
I never understood the true meaning of giving thanks for what I have or could have. It was a tradition I celebrated because those around me practiced it.
Four years ago, this all changed. On the eve of the day of thanks, I was working as a police officer in the most dangerous post of the most dangerous district in the most violent city per capita in the nation. As such, you expect and plan for the worst. I kissed my 1-year-old daughter and wife and told them I loved them as I walked out the door. As a police officer, this is a common practice since you are never sure if you are saying goodbye for a shift or forever. I remember saying good-bye was extra stressful this day because we just had to explain to both sides of the family that I wouldn’t be participating in holiday plans. It’s hard for people who have never been public servants to understand that not everyone works a 9-5 with weekends and holidays off. I needed to work so others could enjoy their holiday in peace.
An hour into my shift, the event I always prepared for occurred. I was in a police-involved shooting. Fortunately, by the culmination of training, luck, and the grace of God I was spared from that terrible event. I spent the next 10 hours being interviewed, stuck with needles and having medical tests performed on me. At 12:00 on Thanksgiving, I was finally headed home dosed with an obscene quantity of steroids and “the cocktail” in hopes to make me recover from my sustained injuries. Despite all the suck, I remember thinking to myself as I made my hour-long drive, “I am so thankful to be going home.”
From that day on, Thanksgiving will never be taken for granted again. As I look around at my family, my now 3 little girls, my beloved wife, and all that I have, I think to myself, “I am so eternally grateful for what I have.” Thanksgiving also serves as a constant reminder to be thankful for all of those that are working so that my family and I can celebrate our holiday in peace.
Remember there are those who are kissing their family’s good-bye and headed off to serve a community that may or may not want them there. All the while, they may or may not be as fortunate as I to make it home.
For all of those who serve, please be safe, and THANK YOU!
Detective (Ret.) Hunter Padgett