HONORING ALL MILITARY, PUBLIC SERVANTS, FALLEN HEROES

My father, Maurice "Sonny" Israel, served in the military as a U.S. Marine Corps sergeant, and he proudly wore the uniforms of the New York City Police Department and the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office, for a combined 44 years of public service. As a decorated NYPD detective and PBSO deputy, his character, his courage and his devotion inspired me to join law enforcement. As sheriff, I strive to live up to his memory and his expectations every day.

That's why there is one group of people I always want to acknowledge and thank personally, but I don't always get the opportunity to do so: the men and women of our military. When we remember the victims of the 9/11 attack this month, we memorialize those who lost their lives on that fateful day in 2001. But that somber day also reminds us once again to recognize and thank our veterans, especially the 2.5 million service members who answered the call since those attacks and served in numerous U.S. deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Annually, BSO pays tribute to the sacrifices that the military, law enforcement, fire rescue and detention deputies make every day. We hold a special End of Watch Memorial for those at BSO who were killed in the line of duty.

In September, we also honor the victims, fire fighters, paramedics and police officers of 9/11 during our local observance of the national memorial events. We remember the legacies and the sacrifices of all of our fallen, whether they lost their lives locally or overseas. We refer to the fallen as heroes, because there is no other act that holds greater meaning than giving one's life to save another. Their deaths are the ultimate sacrifice.

In the early morning of September 11, 2013, as I was on my way to BSO's annual 9/11 memorial ceremony, BSO Deputy Daniel Rivera was involved in a single-car crash which eventually took his life. While Deputy Rivera was fighting for his life in intensive care, his fellow BSO deputies lined the hallways of the hospital, waiting for news and comforting his family who flew in from New York. Together, we attended Deputy Rivera's funeral and shared our memories of him to find a sense of peace. This year, Deputy Daniel Rivera will be remembered in the End of Watch Memorial. He is one of many BSO heroes who will be greatly missed. He protected and served Broward County without expecting recognition or thanks. Deputy Rivera's integrity and character, what he devoted to the job and to his family, will live on through his memory.

We pray and say words of comfort during memorials, but words alone fall terribly short if we don't honor these men and women with deeds worthy of their sacrifices. If we become a reflection of who our fallen heroes once were, then we can inspire others, and then their legacies live on.

This month is a special time to say "thank you" to those selfless Americans who put their all on the line to safeguard our fellow residents. May God continue to bless our service men and women, our veterans, our law enforcement and fire rescue personnel and all their families.

Office Of The Sheriff
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