Remarks by Governor Wolf at Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Police Memorial Service

May 02, 2016

The Forum Auditorium
Harrisburg, PA


I am proud to take part in this memorial ceremony

Am I’m equally honored to be able to pay tribute to the brave women and men who put their lives on the line for us every day in the course of doing their duty

In honoring these brave souls, we’re honoring extraordinary examples of bravery

Extraordinary examples of heroism

That our public safety officers give us every day

We’re putting on full display the remarkable things these people have done – or offered to do – for us

But, the most remarkable thing about these folks is that they do these extraordinary things in the course of their ordinary day

That is as worthy of our notice as the act itself

The idea that extraordinary feats of valor come from our neighbors, relatives and friends – ordinary Americans all

Is truly worthy of note

It suggests two things:

First that there is in each of us a spark of greatness

And second that our extraordinary society rests on the heroic acts of ordinary people doing the jobs they’ve chosen to do for us

The point is that while we’re celebrating the careers and service of people who have heroically sacrificed their lives in the course of doing what they volunteered to do

We need to acknowledge that their heroism comes not just from the uniform they wore

But from the very American spirit that was so much a part of their everyday lives

Let me start with the people we’re honoring today

Officer Lloyd E. Reed, Jr. of St. Clair Township Police Department

Patrolman John James Wilding of the Scranton Police Department

Lieutenant Eric Alan Eslary of the Ligonier Police Department

Detective Paul John Koropal of the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office

And Sergeant Robert Francis Wilson, III of the Philadelphia Police Department

In so many ways, their sacrifice reminds us all of the heroic commitment each officer has made to the rest of us

And we also honor the families of these fallen heroes

And we should honor them for that willingness to serve in the most remarkable way

But we cannot forget that these extraordinary public servants usually come in the most ordinary form

The point of course is that the things that make our society work are the acts of ordinary citizens trying to do what they think is right

I am reminded of the author Eric Maria Remarque

He is of course best known for his novel All Quiet on the Western Front, perhaps the most moving novel written about World War I

He is less well known for a subsequent novel, Flotsam

This book is about the flood of stateless refugees who haunted Western Europe in the years between the world wars

It was about people who were for political, religious, or other callous and random reasons expelled from their home countries and heartlessly refused entry by the other nations of Europe

Their lot was to be hunted like animals, rounded up and expelled – usually under the cover of night – from wherever they were found

They had no homes; they had no rights; they lived lives at the margins

There is a scene where two people are discussing their tragic plight with stoic calm just before being thrown out of one country for another equally hostile country

The one character looks to his colleague and suggests that the tragic, awful things happening to them, to their friends and to Europe is not the result of some extraordinary evil

It’s the simple result of the absence of enough ordinary good

What we’re celebrating today is the existence of ordinary good in these people who have given their lives for us

They are heroes

They are heroes for what they have done

They are heroes for being so willing to sacrifice their lives for our safety and our security

They are heroes for entering a profession that asks each of them to be willing to make that ultimate sacrifice for us

But they are also heroes because they embody the ordinary qualities that must rest in each of us for our free society to survive

So as we remember the fallen warriors who gave their lives for us

Let’s also pay tribute to the ordinary qualities of character that lie hidden in so many of us

And that make our society what it is

Let’s look to these heroes as examples for all of us to follow

Let’s pay tribute to them as – above all – examples of the democratic spirit

And most of all, let’s thank them for their willingness to transform that latent democratic spirit into the heroism we remember today

Thank you

Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook:

SHARE Email Facebook Twitter