I told myself I wasn’t going to do this. I was going to keep school and work separate. Today I can not.
Today in Richmond I attended the funeral of Richmond Patrolman #457, Officer Daniel Ellis. The experience was emotionally overwhelming.
Firetrucks held up an enormous flag over the entrance way to Eastern Kentucky’s Alumni Coliseum, welcoming thousands. Hundreds of police cars from around the state and region packed the parking lot. Inside the arena it was quiet. When people were not speaking, you could only hear sniffling from the teary-eyed supporters. It was enriching to see that so many were there to provide support, but the circumstances made it disheartening.
Before the funeral, a classmate and I interviewed his cousin Hannah Ellis for our UK Student News reporter package. She spoke fondly of her late-cousin, and sang with strength during a beutiful a capella of “How Great Thou Art.” The kind words from those who knew him were more much more than that. Richmond Police Chief Larry Brock was courageous, fighting through tears to provide inspiring words. Officer Ellis wasn’t just a good police officer, he was great, receiving a promotion shortly before tragedy struck. Chief Brock’s most inspiring words, “He wasn’t a hero because of the way he died, he was a hero because of the way he lived.”
It broke my heart seeing pictures of Officer Ellis with his wife and his young son. It’s unbearable to think of that family being torn apart by such a devious act.
As I felt my heart pounding through my chest and my gut tightening into a knot, the humanity of the situation became very real. Everyday as I sit behind my computer screen, I see atrocities on the news from Syria, to people being regularly gunned down in my hometown of Louisville. Like many, I had become desensitized to what was happening on my screen.
It brought me back to another impactful event I experienced this time last year. I attended a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Lexington. If you look at social media, the two groups couldn’t be further apart, yet the feelings at both events weren’t much different. The people and the place were different, but the feelings were strangely similar. The suffering is something that cannot be conveyed through a camera lens, it’s something you must witness firsthand to truly understand.
The awfulness I see on the computer doesn’t truly reflect the awesomeness of humanity that is displayed when people come to together to support one another in a time of need.
Officer Ellis will not be forgotten quickly, but for his legacy to live on we must remember that we are all in this world together. His kind heart led many to refer to him as “Our Daniel.” Instead of getting angry with one another and spouting off hate during tough times, remember his mission: to make the world a better place.
“We came to break the bad, we came to cheer the sad, we came to leave behind the world a better way.” – Salvation Song, The Avett Brothers