In August 1984, U.S. Capitol Poilice Sergeant Christopher S. Eney died in the line of duty. Vivian Eney Cross recently shared her insights into the 25th anniversary of her husband’s death and how the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial ensures her husband’s sacrifice will never be forgotten. The following article from the November 2009 edition of the Simulcast Newsletter, a publication of the Fraternal Order of Police District of Columbia Lodge #1, is reprinted with their permission.
Early in the summer our liaison officer with US Capitol Police, Doug Shugars called and said that they wanted to participate in whatever we choose to do. We decided to have the service at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. The service we had at the gravesite 25 years ago was beautiful and honorable, but the grave only acknowledges the death. We wanted to celebrate who he was and what he stood for – and that could only be done at the Police Memorial. The Memorial is where his service is acknowledged – it is also where his sacrifice is honored.
About 35 family members gathered at USCP Headquarters on Aug. 18th. We then boarded a police bus and they took us lights and sirens to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. I was to find out later that the department had coordinated with Metropolitan Police for our travel through DC. Once at the Memorial the center had been set up for a lovely service. The service allowed not only the Chief to speak and staff from the Memorial to speak; the girls and I were given the opportunity to speak. Finally the girls had a chance to stand before their law enforcement family and let them know how much the officers had come to mean to them – but also express to them what all these years standing by our side had meant to them. As the service ended, roses were given to us and to the grandchildren. (Shannen has a set of triplets and a set of twins, Heather has a set of twins and a newborn) How touching it was to watch the grandchildren place their roses on the wreath. After the service the family was given the time to do some rubbings of his name and talk to the officers who had joined us that day. The extraordinary day was finished with a reception. There the girls and I were given citations from Congress and the Department’s highest award, given to Chris posthumously. At the reception hall two poster-sized pictures of Chris were on display and all who were there that day signed them and they were given to the girls.
What a day – the department will never know all that day meant to us because there will never be enough words to express what is in our heart. That day our lives had come full circle and the last piece of the puzzle to our healing process was fitted in place. God had indeed “restored the years the locusts had eaten.”
If any of you have ever wondered if all the effort to build the Police Memorial was worth it – wonder no more. I wish everyone could have watched those little 3-5 year olds as they placed their flowers for a Granddad they never knew and so slowly and so carefully did their rubbings of his name. Their day was filled with awe and wonder and anyone who asked them were told, “My Granddad died and he was a policeman and he was special.” Patriotism and inspiration were born in them that day. As my daughter got home with her 5 year old triplets and set about getting dinner ready, she happened to look up and see the three boys marching around the room like the honor-guard did – they took great pains to stand straight, shoulders were back, heads were high and not a word was spoken – they were reliving a very solemn moment – it was etched in their hearts for all of time. The Memorial gives to Police Families what it so desperately needed – a place of honor, a place of remembrance, a place of beauty to come and walk the paths and touch the names again, and again, and again!
Thank all of you for all your work in making this Memorial a reality. It is so special – it is Law Enforcement’s Hollowed Ground – and will be there for the next generation of heroes!
– Vivian Eney Cross