Tuesday, April 23, 2013

At Watch's End....

This past Thursday evening, immediately prior to the Rangers game at Madison Square Garden, the annual presentation of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award took place on Garden ice.  In July 1986, NYPD Detective Steven McDonald was shot three times by a fifteen-year-old suspect he had been questioning about the young man's possible involvement in burglaries in Central Park.  One of the bullets struck Detective McDonald in the head, right above his eye.  The second struck him in the throat.  The third shattered his spine.  Against all odds, Detective McDonald survived.  He has lived the past twenty-six-plus years of his life  confined to a wheelchair, having been left a quadriplegic.  

The Rangers - who I have rooted for passionately since I was just a boy - created the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award in the 1987-88 season.  This year marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Award and the fourth time that it was won by Rangers captain Ryan Callahan.  Callahan is now just one win behind my all-time favorite Ranger, Adam Graves, who won the Award five times.  

Watching the ceremony on Thursday night, it struck me how fast time goes.  I recall way back when in the late 1980's seeing Steven McDonald joined on the Garden ice by his wife Patty and their infant son Conor.  This past Thursday night, Conor McDonald was again on the ice with his parents for the ceremony - wearing his NYPD dress uniform.  Conor McDonald has been a member of the NYPD since December 2010.   The NYPD has been the family business in the McDonald family for several generations.  

Sadly, this past Thursday night on a college campus a couple of hundred miles north of the corner of 33rd Street and 7th Avenue in New York City, we were provided with an even starker reminder of the danger inherent in being one who takes on the responsibility of protecting others than that provided by the image of Steven McDonald in the wheelchair that has housed him for the past two and one half decades.  

Twenty-six-year-old Patrol Officer Sean Collier had been a member of the MIT Police Department since January 2012.   Collier was from Somerville, a town nearby Cambridge and Boston.  Recently, he had taken and earned a high score on a civil service exam.  It was expected that by June 2013 he was going to be hired as a member of the Somerville Police Department.  

Sean Collier was a young man whose whole life appeared to be in front of him - until he was executed by the two cowards who three days earlier had blown up innocents at the Boston Marathon.   He is a young man whose praises have been sung from every corner - by friends and family, those with whom he worked, by those he was sworn to protect and by those who paid him to do so.  

"Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." - Ambrose Redmoon.  May there always be those among us such as Sean Collier.  For as long as there are, no matter how many cowards surface time and again to inflict harm upon us, at day's end good shall triumph.  


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