"Say what you have to say, and not what you ought."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Community Says Farewell

Last week I posted about the shooting in Ogden that had left one police officer dead and four others seriously wounded.  Yesterday was the funeral for Officer Jared Francom.  On my way to work in the morning I drove down one of the main roads the funeral procession would be going down.  As I sat at a red light, as far as I could see to both the north and south, American flags lined the side of the road.  On the road ahead of me another line of flags fluttered in the cold, clear morning.  As I drove, I passed a group of volunteers methodically placing flags along the curb.  I don’t know when they started placing the flags, but already, just a couple of hours after daylight, miles of roads in the city were lined with flags. It was a humbling sight that put me in an introspective mood for much of the morning.    
At lunchtime, I went downtown with some of my co-workers to watch the funeral procession.  The streets were lined with people, many of them holding more flags.  We found a spot on the side of the road and waited.   A friendly older man who was receiving reports from someone, somewhere, would periodically walk up and down the sidewalk shouting out updates on the progress of the procession “They’re just pulling out of the Dee Events Center”, “Just passing Mount Ogden Junior High”, “Coming down 30th Street, shouldn’t be long now” and so forth.  What we didn’t know was that it took 40 minutes for all of the vehicles to line up and clear the parking lot from where the funeral was held, so we had a long wait.  The procession itself took 90 minutes to travel approximately 8 miles. 

The crowd wasn’t the typical restless, loud and fidgety type that I’m used to seeing waiting for parades, air shows and such.  Even though the temperatures were in the low 30’s, people waited patiently and pretty quietly.  Finally, we saw a police car approaching with its overheard lights on.  Not far behind it was a line of motorcycle officers from all over the state, riding side-by-side.  The line stretched for what seemed like miles.  They road by in perfect formation, lights on, eyes straight ahead.  It was an impressive, moving sight that’s hard to describe.  For much better shots than I was able to get, check out this slideshow from the local paper. funeral-ogden-police-officer Following behind them was the fire engine carrying the casket of Officer Francom. I don’t think there were many dry eyes as the engine slowly drove by, followed by the limos carrying his widow, daughters and other family. 
After that came an endless line of law enforcement vehicles with all of the officers inside in their dress uniforms wearing white gloves.  Many were crying as they drove by, some nodded and waved to the crowds.  I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.  Even though the streets were lined with thousands of people, when the casket passed it was almost silent other than the sound of the vehicles in the procession. It seemed a little surreal. The entire experience was both sobering and heartwarming.

Last week I watched an interview with Jennifer Hudson where she talked about being “lifted up by love” from her fans and supporters after the murder of her mother, brother and nephew.  I cried as I listened because I know exactly what she’s talking about.  At my sister’s funeral, I remember literally feeling enveloped and protected by love from everyone there.  It didn’t matter whether I knew them or not. The simple fact of them being there to honor and remember someone I loved so deeply meant the world to me. Ogden residents and many others came out yesterday to lift up the family and friends of Jared Francom.  Whether we knew them or not, I have to think that in some small way it helped.   
Yesterday I was especially proud to say I live in Ogden.  Our community came together to honor and mourn a fallen officer and show support to his family and colleagues. It didn’t matter whether or not people agreed with how and why he died, who enforces the laws, or how they’re enforced by our city’s police.  Yesterday was simply about community, compassion and respect.  


  1. Thanks for writing this. It was a beautiful and moving tribute. I can only imagine how it must have felt to witness this event. I too hope the family felt lifted up by the love from the community.


  2. What a wonderful city you live in. The pictures tell a story, but your words tell it even better. Thank you for the effort it took to write this and share it with me.

  3. It is special when a community comes together after a tragedy. Our little town did something similar when we lost a soldier in Iraq. When our local troops came home the community lined the highway to welcome them home. If only we had that same love and respect for each other every day.


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