“Ties” that bind

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Salvation Army team provides ministry of presence at Oakland Police memorial service.

Salvationists distribute cold water to police officers assembling for the memorial service. [Photo by John Covert]

The Salvation Army was on duty outside Oakland, Calif.’s Oracle Arena, on March 27 as 18,000 police professionals from across the nation gathered for the public funeral and memorial service for four Oakland Police officers killed by gunfire while on duty on Saturday, March 21.

As mourners filed into the facility, The Army’s Del Oro Division Emergency Disaster Team offered bottles of cold water to aid in the long wait to enter and the three-hour service. As one out-of-state police officer approached, a unique moment occurred.

“I don’t really need any water, but I’m desperate for a black tie,” he said. “I’m part of an honor guard to pay homage to these guys but I can’t find my tie anywhere. I don’t want to be out of uniform at this event.”

As the young policeman spoke, Captain Kevin Hanson of the Hayward Corps removed his own uniform tie and presented it to him.

“Are you kidding?” asked the astonished officer.

“Not at all,” replied Hanson. “My dad just retired from a police department, and I know how important this is for you. Take mine—I’ll be fine without it.”

The look of surprise was not limited to the tie-less officer. His companions in the line also observed the gesture and expressed their appreciation for this spontaneous act by a Salvation Army officer.

As more police officers passed, a contingent representing the New York City Police came through the line. They eagerly grasped the hands of the Army’s representatives and thanked them for the practical gift of water. One said, with tears in his eyes, “God bless you for being here for us. You’re always caring for us no matter where we go in this country.”

“I felt a mixture of pride and humility to be part of The Salvation Army,” said North Bay Coordinator Captain Fred Rasmussen. “I’m glad that the principles of Christian caring come from us spontaneously in these times and that people know they can depend on us to act in God’s name in the difficulties of life.”

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