The Origin of the Suffolk County Chapter of the Brotherhood For The Fallen
In 1864 President Abraham Lincoln drafted a letter to a grieving mother, Mrs. Bixby, who had recently lost all of her sons in battle during the American Civil War. He wrote, “I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.” While the origin of this phrase was born within a military context, it rings true within our cherished law enforcement community as well.
In 2010 members of the Chicago Police Department organized a group whose sole mission was to help “assuage the anguish” of the loved ones of police officers who have paid the ultimate “sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.” They called this new organization the Brotherhood for the Fallen and recruited fellow officers to share in their mission. They tasked themselves with sending a uniformed delegation to the funerals of police officers in the United States who were murdered in the line of duty, and to help support those officers’ families financially, and emotionally. Their humble mission began to grow, and within a few short years police officers from the Aurora Colorado Police Department, the New York City Police Department, the Fort Worth Police Department, and our Suffolk County Police Department, joined the cause.
The Suffolk County Police Chapter was born after a number of members came together in August of 2015 and attended the funeral of Deputy Darren Goforth of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Houston, Texas. Members of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office had met members of the Suffolk County Police Department when they were in the New York area to attend the funerals of New York City Police Department Police Officer Ramos and Liu, who were ambushed and killed in December of 2014. Having connected with these colleagues from Texas during their stay in New York, members of our department organized the trip to repay the honor when one of their brethren was killed.
While in attendance at the funeral, a number of members from the Suffolk County Police Department happened upon the Brotherhood For the Fallen delegation from the Chicago Police Department and learned about their honorable mission. Upon returning to Suffolk County and talking with other officers, it was evident that many of our colleagues in Suffolk County happen to travel to line of duty death funerals regularly, and on their own accord. This was further cemented when in July of 2016, nearly thirty members of the Suffolk County Police Department, with the help and support of the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association, traveled to the Dallas, Texas area to attend the funeral of the five slain police officers murdered in the wake of an anti-police protests.
Following this tragedy, members of the Suffolk County Police Department expounded on this movement and the Brotherhood for the Fallen Suffolk County Chapter was born in August of 2016. Since that time our ranks have swelled to over 800 members and we enjoy the full support, and backing, of the upper echelon members of the Suffolk County Police Department, the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association, as well as other union-related and fraternal organizations within the department. We have embraced the simple yet monumental mission that those officers from Chicago started back in 2010, and attend the funerals of officers murdered in the line of duty within the United States. Our uniformed delegation also presents the family of the deceased with a monetary donation to help offset the economic burden that often accompanies these tragedies.
The Brotherhood for the Fallen Suffolk County is a not for profit organization whose funding is based on membership dues, merchandise sales, fundraisers, and most importantly, donations. Like any Police Department mission, our success lies within our working relationship with our local communities, and we count on their generosity to help sustain our mission. We are hopeful that our mission will continue to be realized through the hard work and philanthropy of our members, and communities, and we hope to see this organization continue to grow in other jurisdictions on the national stage.