Today we buried our law enforcement brother, Brian Hayden. Brian was a personal friend, which makes it even harder. I always have mixed emotions going to these funerals. Getting to see old friends from the other agencies, retelling of old tales is always enjoyable, yet the emotional roller coaster of doing the ceremony and seeing the family is heartbreaking.
The inspiring and warm feelings when you see the long line of patrol units lined up for over a mile as they escort the family and the fallen brother to the graveside. Today I stopped counting at 300 cars and trucks with flashing lights. All the lights going, cops like things that sparkle and shine! The small town folks pull over and remove their hats and stand along the roadside in respect for the fallen hero. The truckers stop and shut down their rigs even though they are on a schedule. It is a different world in small town Oklahoma, a better world.
The hardest part is the graveside ceremony where the Honor Guard does their deeply steeped traditional sendoff, the gun salute, bagpipes etc. Most heartbreaking of all is that moment when the cop's wife realizes her worst nightmare has come true, the moment when that sharply dressed honor guard member presents the folded flag to her, uttering that familiar phrase, "On behalf of a grateful Nation....". I almost feel embarrassed as I fight back the tears, only to look around to see all my other brothers and sisters, manly men and tough women, crying also.
As much as I dislike going, I still go. I go because if the role was reversed , they would go for me! That's what cops do. It is a sense of duty that drives me and everyone else to go and show support, to close ranks, to let the family know that they are just that, family. Tabitha, like it or not, you are stuck with us now! You are family!
Rest in peace Brian Hayden. Friend, Brother Officer, Brother in Christ. We are diminished. (Deputy Hudgins Logan County Sheriff)
Deputy Hayden died in a traffic collision while responding to a shots fired call in which one of his partners needed help. E-O-W 4/19/2012