Advance View: Honour heroes, and remember

They’re all heroes.

That’s sometimes forgotten between the big tragedies that remind us.

In 2005 it was four RCMP officers ambushed and killed in Meyerthorpe, Alberta. This week all of Canada mourns three Mounties shot to death in Moncton, New Brunswick. They are the latest to join the list of nearly 150 police officers murdered in the line of duty in recent years – at a rate of about three a year. (That number does not include other job-related deaths such as traffic accidents and the like.)

And as if to add a special reminder for those who are still too slow to get it, a Vancouver Police officer was shot at and injured, along with two civilians, in an “incident” on Tuesday morning.

The Vancouver incident resulted in a shoot-out in which police put their lives on the line in defence of bus loads of children locked down for their own protect in the nearby Science World building.

That’s what they do. It’s their job. But it does take a special kind of person to do it.

When we’re not mourning fallen heroes, it’s easy to point at the odd officer who goes astray, and to use their indiscretions – admittedly, sometimes, serious criminal indiscretions – and complain about corruption or poor training or lack of honour in our police forces.

But the reality is that Canada’s police are respected world-wide – and the 20,000 or so Mounties and tens of thousands of provincial, city, and municipal police officers across the country have earned that respect.

Despite the tragedies that befall our heroes like those in Moncton – or perhaps because our police bear the brunt by putting themselves in harm’s way – violent crime rates have been plummeting in recent years.

And today’s Canada is literally one of the safes places in the world – and in history – for ordinary people to go about their day-to-day business.

Honour our fallen heroes, certainly.

But remember that they’re all heroes.

– B.G.

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