The Safest, Solemnest Place In The World

Seing as my office is about a mile away, I bailed out of work a few minutes early yesterday afternoon and biked up behind the Fox Hills Mall to the entrance of Culver City’s Holy Cross Cemetery on Slauson where inside LAPD Officer Randal Simmons was being laid to rest. Outside, as I’m sure you’ve all seen it was a literal river of black-and-whites, a result of the largest assemblage of law enforcement personnel and transportation that Los Angeles and perhaps the world has ever known.

As I moved in awe among the vehicles, from up on the hill where they had gathered around Simmons’ casket the sound of a solitary trumpet made its way down to my ears. I mean, it’s not like I’ve never heard Taps played, but I choked up realizing that I’d always heard it performed from a distance, either ceremonially or via television or radio. Never before had I heard it played live in honor of someone who had fallen. Never had I been so close to the reality and the sorrow. And while it may not be required I stopped, removed my helmet, bowed my head and placed my hand over my heart and I paid my own personal respects.

At ease, Officer Simmons. Rest in peace.

7 thoughts on “The Safest, Solemnest Place In The World”

  1. I remember about 7 years ago when a motorcycle officer was killed in the line of duty (Glendale I think?), I got on the 134 east at Hollywood Way and saw off the freeway the beginning of the procession just geting to Forest Lawn Cemetary. The ENTIRE west 134 was shut down, and in place of the normal traffic was a solid 2×2 line of police vehicles from the cemetary to the Central Ave exit and then it crossed the freeway. It took my breath away. That image will always stand out on my mind.
    It sounds lie this one was even bigger. I can only imagine….

  2. It’s an impressive sight to see that many vehicles gathered for such a sad occasion. I’m hopeful that the Los Angeles area is a bit more respectful than the Portland area. When a sheriff’s deputy was killed in the line of duty a couple years ago, there was a loud and vocal contingent of folks who complained that it was a giant waste of time and a huge disruption to allow the funeral procession to shut down a freeway while it passed.


  3. I also extend my sympathy to those who loved, worked with, and called this man a friend. As a resident of Portland, Oregon I hope that our community will learn to have have more empathy and understanding of the grave risks our police officers take every day in protecting our safety.

  4. I worked in midtown Manhattan after 9/11, three blocks from St. Pat’s Cathedral on 5th Ave. I had the same reaction hearing the bagpipes played the first time at a responder’s funeral. It was almost a daily ocurrence for months.

    This one is sad, indeed.

  5. Let me be frank, and come what may.

    I was schooled to be a third generation cop–after having had my first 18 years that was supposed to have dumped me into Colorado Springs. I even had an endorsement by my then-senator, Howell Heflin, who had hoped I would be something that my adopted state would appreciate. I have considerable credentials for the applications of firearms and other munitions, owing to my sundry training. And I have a lot of lost friends.

    That was back in the 1980s.

    Since then, my father (a 20-year capital city cop whose own 20-year tenure was cut short by a few months when he was called out to pick up the scattered body parts of his former partner) has been a bit sad that I endeavoured to do punk rock audio engineering, typography and whatnot. But I never forgot what I were trained to do, and I know all too well what I am about to state.

    I also know what it is to lose a loved one in a national tragedy. I spent nearly five years in New York City trying to oversee the diminished estate of a loved one who disappeared September, 2001.

    What I find repulsive is that there is so much for someone who signed up for something, and who is posthumously exploited when during his lifetime was so poorly appreciated.

    I have friends who were in the FIRST Gulf war who are entirely forgotten by the very nation they were told to be saving, and as I see 50 in the near distance I am relieved of having legless and armless friends coming home. Instead, I get to hear how all of Los Angeles “honours” the fallen of someone whose name they never knew.

    No matter the race nor creed nor sex of the person wearing the boots or pulling the trigger, the heel still hurts and the bullet still kills. Doubt me? Then argue someone who knows better than you: George Orwell. “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.”

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