A reader commenting last week on the naming of Manchester's new police station, which opens next month, had a good suggestion. Name it, he said, the Manchester Memorial Police Station, dedicated to the memory of any and all city police who have or might fall in the line of duty.
In similar fashion, that is why my alma mater is Manchester Memorial High School, dedicated to those lost in war.
The current police administration, with a vote of approval from the Board of Aldermen, intends to name the new station in honor of Officer Michael Briggs, who was killed in 2006. A plaque to that effect is already in place. The soon-to-be-abandoned station (and nearby Fire HQ) is named for Officer Ralph Miller, who was killed in 1976.
I have talked with former officers, and a Miller relative. They would like to honor Mike Briggs' memory, too, but feel that it is wrong to in effect swap out names.
One retired officer told me he and others had been talking about it before I wrote an editorial last week. They had also asked the question, "God forbid another officer is killed. What happens to the name then?"
Another officer, tongue in cheek, said that perhaps Stark Park should be renamed Douglas MacArthur Park, since Gen. John Stark has been gone a long time.
He has a point.
I understand the current police sentiment to do something big, something very special, for Mike Briggs' memory. And I know Chief David Mara and his force are trying to be sensitive, too, to the memory of Ralph Miller and even officers from an earlier era who died on duty. They have plans to honor them, and others, inside the new station.
No doubt, in time, this current dispute will fade away as people move on and people forget. But that is the point. Losing a police officer in the line of duty is a tragedy that should be remembered, not just today, but always.
Whatever the final resolution of the naming of the new building, I hope that the issue provokes a thoughtful way to recognize, equally and for always, all those who have made, or may one day have to make, the ultimate sacrifice in protecting the people of Manchester.
We owe it to them. We owe it to our children. We owe it to ourselves.
Write to Joe McQuaid at firstname.lastname@example.org.