Philadelphia Soul Honors Fallen Heroes

Law enforcement and sports have a long history. For decades, Police Athletic Leagues and Police Boys and Girls Clubs have brought law enforcement officers and young people together. Many police officers are themselves athletes or they coach youth or adult teams. And, of course, no professional sports franchise in the country could exist without the support of local law enforcement assisting with security, traffic control and other safety responsibilities.

On Saturday, June 14, one professional sports team – the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League – decided to give something back to the public safety community. During its game against the Cleveland Gladiators, the Soul held a special “Heroes Night” to honor both law enforcement officers and firefighters who have died in the line of duty. The family of Philadelphia Police Officer Charles Cassidy received special recognition during the pre-game ceremony at the Wachovia Spectrum. Officer Cassidy was gunned down last November as he walked in on an armed robbery at a local donut shop. His name was engraved this spring on Panel 50-West of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial – one of 245 Philadelphia Police officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice throughout the history of that proud department.

As part of the “Heroes Night,” the NLEOMF was invited to set up a display booth at the Spectrum. Literally hundreds of Soul fans stopped by to pick up free lapel pins, learn about the Memorial Fund and its programs, and purchase merchandise including tee-shirts, stuffed “police” animals and awareness bands. Others simply wanted to make a donation to support the work of the Memorial Fund – including one particularly generous man who pulled a crisp $100 bill from his pocket, gave it to an NLEOMF staff member and quietly disappeared back into the crowd.

Some of the visitors were active or retired law enforcement personnel – not only Philadelphia Police officers, but also officers, deputies, state troopers and correctional officers from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Most said they have friends or colleagues whose names are engraved on the Memorial, and they wanted to stop by and show their support.

The NLEOMF thanks owner Jon Bon Jovi and the entire Philadelphia Soul organization (in particular, George Fielden Jr., Deputy Fire Marshal in Upper Merion Township, PA, who handled many of the arrangements) for choosing to publicly honor our public safety heroes and for allowing the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund to be part of a very special evening.

Footnote: A day later, on Sunday, June 15, the Philadelphia Soul joined the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 98, and Bonks Bar and Grille in helping to support the Sergeant Stephen Liczbinski Father’s Day Benefit during an old-fashioned block party. Sergeant Liczbinski, also a member of the Philadelphia Police Department, was shot and killed in the line of duty on May 3rd of this year.