Officer Kenyon Youngstrom # 18063
California Highway Patrol
End of Watch
September 5, 2012.
My return is bittersweet, as I owe my readers part two of “In Pursuit of Happiness.” It is done, but how can I respectfully post a little humor when another officer has been taken from our family of life. I can’t spin this any other way and I refuse to ignore the pain and suffering shared most intimately by his family. This death comes almost a year after my friend Jim Mathiesen, a Deputy Sheriff with the Marin County Sheriff’s Office was also murdered, another wound yet to be healed.
I was not able to attend Officer Kenyon Youngstrom’s respectful curtain call from this planet. I had yet another bout of bullshit from my personal life that infected my ability to show my respect in person, but nothing could have prevented my attention that day as I watched from my computer and drifted unconsciously in spirit to that blessed place. The place silent and most honored with the love of his family and friends by his side. Officer Youngstrom shot on September 5, 2012 was never alone. He arrived in heaven surrounded by everything important to him from the moment he was struck by the coward who shot him until he gave his ultimate gift to people who would allow Kenyon to live on in their bodies, recipients of his life-saving organs.
I can tell you that I never met this fine man, but I can tell you about the searing- and for the moment, non-repairable wound of his death. Lets call it what it really was, his cold-blooded murder. It affected thousands of mourners and in a “just” world should have come to the attention of every person on the planet. But we don’t hold hero’s like California Highway Patrol Officer Kenyon Youngstrom in the same esteem as the modern day pop culture jerk-off or basketball player found plastered on the world’s television screen. Those over indulged, privileged people, “famous” for nothing but the type of shoes they wear or some wardrobe malfunction find their way into our lexicon, but hero’s like Officer Kenyon Youngstrom or his partner State Traffic Officer Tyler Carlton fade from the public like steam dissolving into the atmosphere.
Funny how we all slow down to see the car wreck on our freeways, but overlook those in uniform who are there to literally pick up the pieces. Instead we get pissed off that our commute is a little longer than usual – never giving the poor bastard in the accident one moment of concern for his or her safety. And then some, not all of us- take hero’s like the medics from American Medical Response, the doctor from John Muir Trauma Center -who did not drive past -but stopped to render aid, the Walnut Creek, Danville, San Ramon and other Police Officers, not to mention the firefighters and silent hero’s like the freaking Freeway Service Patrol workers, who simply and importantly blocked the road to prevent injury to those desperately trying to save Officer Youngstrom’s, life for granted. Well, they do that for a living…right?
My contempt at times submerges my forgiveness and ambivalence for the human race. I get it. I don’t fall on my knees every time someone is killed for no reason. But I take pause when innocent men, women or children and soldiers fall victim to some dark soul possessed by evil. I retreat and regroup when public safety professionals -you know those same “millionaires” that get their asses kicked daily for their pensions, are taken from their families and from their abilities to provide that peace for the very public that scorn them and relishes in their personal failures. Think I’m full of shit? Open any paper today.
Sorry, but my tolerance for mitigation from those who throw rocks from the back row, or exploit their bully pulpits, kind of like what I am doing here, has run out. Two weeks ago I started my 29th year of service for my community. While I have been well compensated I ask you, how much is all of this really worth? Really, my health, my destroyed neck because of a careless jerk-off who crashed into me. How about the ex-con who put me in the hospital. I don’t know, you tell me. Was it worth the $50.00 an hour? Is lifetime medical just to cover my neck injury only - that will someday require surgery when I am old- too generous? I guess Officer Youngstrom and legions of others who decided to put on the uniform each day to make this world a little better – not for profit -but for selfless principal of doing the right thing- deserve what we get. (Said with unbelievable sarcasm colored by contempt.)
I will reread this in a few moments because I hate regret, but I suspect my bare, naked emotion displayed in this cathartic post will not balance out anytime soon. So while I thank you for allowing my indulgence, I simply as for your own personal moment of silence for the wonderful family and friends of Officer Kenyon Youngstrom from the California Highway Patrol’s Concord, California area office. If you are so inclined, take that moment to say a prayer for the intact and respectful soul of Officer Youngstrom but don’t forget to include in those prayers his 4 children, his wife and family – also hero’s. Keep in your thoughts that valiant hero found in Officer Tyler Carlton who channeled St. Michael that morning in that moment when he too faced potentially his final challenge on earth and faced it down with bravery and decisive almighty intervention.
So I close this post overcome by the grace of this population of men and women. People from all walks of life who come together from a variety of cultures who simply, by putting on that uniform- cops, firefighters, paramedics alike -who step out from the dark locker-room and into the light of the public, risk their lives and wellbeing and forfiet their future and special moments with their families in that instant for people who live vicariously in their shoes watching episodes of COPS. Those same people who turn the TV off when it gets too spooky and roll into bed - forgetting that those over compensated people they read about are still out there...in the dark...away from their loved ones and turning off the danger facing them is not an option.
The big guy (or gal) and I have not seen eye to eye in a while, but there is a time to cast away my selfish thoughts and take a look beyond my own circumstances. This little passage brings me back from time to time…take it or leave it. It’s free. Just like this blog.
Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
May God hold and protect this community of peacemakers. Especially the family and friends of State Traffic Officer Kenyon Youngstrom, California Highway Patrol Officer #18063