All life is sacred. At the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, the name JOSEPH PELOSI, is engraved on the very first panel. New York City Patrolman Joseph James Pelosi died at age 27 on December 11, 1924, the first birthday of his second son, Vincent James Pelosi, my father. My dad’s older brother, Louis, was only two years old. Their mother Mary was 23 when she was left alone to maintain a home and raise two infant sons. Before the funeral, my grandmother had to solicit funds from her family and friends with which to purchase a black dress.
Patrolman Pelosi remains the most-junior Law Enforcement Officer killed in the line of duty, fresh from the Police Academy, and only six days in uniform in his first week of probationary patrol. He was so junior a Law Enforcement Officer that the City of New York had no provisions for survivor benefits for his widow and family. New York’s Finest petitioned the City government which, very quickly, passed legislation that provided a pension for his widow which she collected for 65 years until her death in 1989.
Neither my uncle nor my father, both now deceased, had any memory of their father’s physical appearance, the feeling of his hugs and kisses, the sound of his voice or the sense of his love. There was, and still is, only one photograph of him. Exceptionally handsome with a full head of back hair and chiseled facial features, he is seated dressed in his Police Officer’s Bluecoat with his badge number 12174 prominently displayed. His pose is profoundly stoic.
Both his sons still were in their teens when they joined the military after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941. They did not ask and did not tell their mother about enlisting. They were certain that she would not want the last two of the three men in her life in harm’s way. Each, in his own carefully chosen words years later, told me that he did not fear the thought of combat nor the risk of an early death like his father. They believed that their father served in uniform when and where there was a need. In his honor and to their credit these boys also would serve in uniform.
Louis joined the Navy. My father joined the Army and served in the Army Air Corps as a B-17 and B-24 bomber pilot flying missions over Normandy in 1944 and later as a C-47 and C-54 cargo pilot in support of the Berlin Airlift in 1948 and 1949. During the war, Patrolman Pelosi’s sons served honorably and helped to secure ultimate victory. My father’s humanitarian flights during the Airlift kept more than three million Berliners from starving. After the war, having seen their mother with only a grade school education work three jobs to support them, both sons went off to college using their benefits from the military to obtain an education and secure stable jobs. They married, raised children, and mentored their grandchildren much like most of the other men and women of America’s Greatest Generation. Patrolman Pelosi never lived to share in one day of either of his son’s personal or professional accomplishments as a youth, teen, adult, warrior, husband or father.
Yes, all life is sacred. The first duty of every citizen within society is to prevent murder. The thugs who murder Law Enforcement Officers such as my grandfather are particularly reprehensible especially when they do so under the aegis of Black Lives Matter (BLM). After three years, the BLM movement has succeeded in nothing productive. It only has succeeded in stoking the fires every time there is a death resulting from an incident between Law Enforcement Officers and community members whose actions have attracted their attention. The black murderers in Dallas and Baton Rouge intentionally targeted only police officers. In these same three years not one non-black Law Enforcement Officer has stated or testified or was heard to say that he pursued his victim because he was black. But BLM supporters protest alleging the contrary.
Now is the time to diminish the attention that all race-based movements receive. Adding a color prefix or adjective to the title of an organization or activity is blatantly discriminatory. Its primary purpose is to distinguish its specialized membership. Black Lives Matter, Congressional Black Caucus and other color-focused groups tend to alienate those who are excluded.
Law Enforcement Officers are sworn to Serve and Protect. They don’t make any laws nor do they selectively enforce them. Americans strongly should support Blue Lives Matter if anyone of us expects to be treated equally under the law. Patrolman Joseph Pelosi and those Law Enforcement Officers who names join his on the National Memorial Wall deserve that support for their sacrifice as their legacy.