Thursday, March 17, 2011

Look Around-There Are Heroes Among Us!

I watched him grow, sang at his wedding, celebrated the birth of his children and was proud when he became a police officer.  He was a magician, a musician, a father, brother, son, husband, Christian and friend.  He loved his family, his God and his job.  Sgt. Ray Shinholser was the kind of man who made the world a better place to live. 

That's why, when a fellow officer and friend was killed in the line of duty, he decided to do something about it.  Ray wrote a song called, When's Daddy Coming Home.  He began recording it on December 5, 1988.  It was a big event covered by several television stations in his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida.  A portion of the money raised would be given to help build a police memorial in Washington, D.C. to honor officers who had fallen in the line of duty. 

Just a few days later on December 12, 1988, he finished the song.  He was proud of what he had accomplished to help his fellow police officers and was anxious to take his son Michael to the studio to add the finishing touches to the tape.  Unfortunately, he would never get that chance.  Officer Shinholser would give his life in the line of duty the very next day. 

As his family gathered beside his hospital bed hoping for a miracle, they knew what Ray would expect of them if he did not make it: finish the song and help raise money for the memorial. So, just one day after his death, his wife, Debbie took their four-year-old son to the recording studio to finish what Ray had begun.  As Michael spoke the words his father had taught him to say, everyone in the room realized the painful truth, Michael and Mandy's daddy wasn't coming home either.      

Ray was a true hero.  However, Ray is not alone.  We are surrounded by others who like Ray, care enough to give their all.  They serve us as police officers, fire fighters, and soldiers.  These men and women spend their lives protecting and serving the people around them and not without cost.

According to the National Law Enforcement Association, on the average, a police officer is killed somewhere in the America nearly every other day. Since they began keeping records in 1792, over fourteen thousand officers have lost their lives while performing their duties.

I am thankful for these dedicated men and women who allow me to live my life without fear.  I believe that they are all heroes in the truest form.  Never before have their jobs been more dangerous or more necessary.  As we watched in horror the events that unfolded in New York City a few years ago, we witnessed heroism at its best. 

I know that the police officers and fire fighters are doing everything within their power to keep the citizens of this community safe from both local and international dangers.  We as a community should express our gratitude to these hard working professionals as often as we can. 

When the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial was officially dedicated on October 15,1991, in Washington D.C., Ray's entire family attended as honored guests.  His song had raised over twenty-five thousand dollars for the memorial.  They sat both proudly and sadly at the ceremony, missing him but knowing that Ray would have been proud of them because they had accomplished his dream.

Life can sometimes be ironic.  Ray had no way to know that the song that he had written would soon describe his own life.  The chorus of the song says, "Momma, when's my daddy coming home?  He promised to take me to the fair.  I really miss him and I just want to hold him and show him how much I care. 
You say he's gone now forever and ever; that's something I just cannot understand.  Momma, when's my daddy coming home to hug his little man?"

The words of this song serve to remind us of the sacrifices that our heroes are making for us every day.  Look around, there are heroes among us.  Police officers, fire fighters, and soldiers make our world a better place to live.  These men and women are willing to give their all for the ones that they love.  They are public servants who defend and protect us even when we are not aware of the dangers.  I find it difficult to listen to the song that Ray recorded.  It is bittersweet to hear the voice of my long lost friend singing and even more difficult to hear the tender voice of his son at the end of the song.  Michael says, "Daddy, when are you coming home?  I miss you, Daddy.  I love you, Daddy.  Goodbye, Dad!"

Thank you heroes from the bottom of my heart! 


  1. So true, Brenda! We should never take these heroes for granted.

  2. Thanks you for your kind words, Brenda. We appreciate it.

  3. A very beautiful tribute... I still have the tape.
    God bless our law enforcement and emergency workers... they are the true and the brave!

  4. Debbie Shinholser BenninghoffMarch 17, 2011 at 7:05 PM

    Thank you for remembering Ray. It means more than you will ever know. What is really ironic is how Michael is also an unsung hero. Although he is not a police officer, his service to our country as an Army Ranger allows all of us to lay our heads down in peace each and every night. If Ray were here today, he would be so proud of his son. Once again, Thank you for honoring America's heroes.

  5. great tribute to fallen officers., Rest in peace Ray and all our braveofficers who have given the utmost sacrifice.