Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day

Decked out for July 4th

Today is the 4th of July and Americans all over the world are celebrating their independence. Here in the Greene household, we celebrate a little more this year.

As some of you may know, in addition to coaching Football, for the past 20 years Sparky also worked full time as a Correction Officer in a maximum security prison. As of July first, he is officially RETIRED.

A lot is said of those who fight in foreign wars for the freedoms we enjoy, and yet, rarely does anyone acknowledge the selfless service of those who protect us here at home. We're all aware of the soldiers who race to battle with guns and grenades but what of those men and women who walk each day unarmed among society's most violent criminals with nothing more than a small body alarm to protect them.

These are the people who form a line of defense between us and those who would hurt or kill us for no reason other than we have something they want.

And yet, there are some who resent the "20 years and out" policy. They feel that these state employees somehow get a "free ride" on the taxpayer's dime.

Make no mistake about it, Correction Officers EARN that retirement.

  • 20 years of working a rotating schedule - 5 days on, 3 days off.
  • Overtime is not an hour here and there - it's a full 8 hour shift on top of your normal shift. That's 16 hours straight - sometimes voluntary but it can be (and often is) "ordered" when necessary.
  • 20 years of working every holiday. No holidays, no snow days because they are  "essential personnel."
  • 20 years of going to work every day in a freshly pressed uniform only to have inmates hurl all manner of bodily secretions at you - this is just one form of assault - many are HIV+
  • 20 years of daily verbal abuse - being called every racist, ethnic or sexual slur imagineable - you cannot respond in kind - that would be unprofessional.
  • 20 years of being locked behind bars with the most dangerous humans on the planet - and knowing that to them, you are nothing more than a target. (Sparky was well respected in the prison and yet he was assaulted twice.)
    Correction work takes its toll on those who work there and the families who love them. It changes people. It's not easy to maintain your basic faith in humanity when you spend 8-16 hours a day bearing witness to the horrors that humans are capable of inflicting on themselves and one another. It's easy to become jaded and cynical, and it's not easy to turn that off when you get home.

    Sparky's 20 years are done. Ever since he made the decision to go, I've noticed a change in his demeanor. Each day his smile comes more readily and he laughs more easily.

    Today we celebrate Sparky's Independence Day.

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