Real Heroes: The LAPD’s 2014 Above & Beyond Medal of Valor & Purple Heart Ceremony

They had me at the National Anthem…


I knew going to a ceremony where 25 officers would be receiving the Los Angeles Police Department’s highest honor would be emotional, but I didn’t realize I would start the waterworks at … the National Anthem. LAPD Officer Rosalind Curry took to the stage at the Dolby Ballroom for the ceremony presented by the Los Angeles Police Foundation and belted out a strong, no frills rendition of the patriotic tune that had me dabbing away with my napkin. We were all seated in the room where each year the Academy throws their glam Governors Ball following the Oscars. What followed next, in a room normally filled with people who portray heroes onscreen, is that real life heroes came onstage when G.W. Bailey (The Closer, Major Crimes) read their stories (or their families came onstage if the officer died in the line of duty).

There was a Purple Heart awarded to the first undercover drug officer killed in the line of duty—Detective Gerald “Blackie” Sawyer and a two-time awardee (Purple Heart and Medal of Valor) Officer Sean Schneider. The real life stories of heroism were amazing and I tried to stop saying “Oh my gosh” (I was sitting at a table for of Officers and Detective) after hearing each one. Police Chief Charlie Beck agreed, “When it comes to the valor of the men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department, there is nothing common about them…somewhere right now, there’s a Los Angeles Police Officer doing his or her job, that is in jeopardy.”

I got choked up at the National Anthem, G.W. Bailey, however, made it until the end of the ceremony before he broke down, “Thank you for letting me be part of something as extraordinary as this afternoon,” he stopped and choked up before adding quietly, “Thank you for that.”

Photograph by Noe Montes