“In Valor There is Hope”

1 year ago

On May 11, 2022 SFC (Ret) Chelsea Porterfield (2020-21) was the key note speaker during the Federal Protective Service annual wreath ceremony during National Police Week in Washington DC. As a former Military Police Officer and Sergeant of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier she spoke about peace, victory, and valor and how they intertwine in the lives and duty of so many. Below are her comments during the ceremony:

SFC (Ret) Chelsea Porterfield (2020-21)
SFC (Ret) Chelsea Porterfield (2020-21) waits to present her remarks. Photo by FPS

We will leave this ceremony having recognized acts of hope as acts of valor; and we go back to our lives victorious over the absence of hope.

Good afternoon, Secretary Mayorkus, distinguished guests, and members of the Ware family. I’d like to start by recognizing the incredible example of hope that we see here today; it’s something that I’ve dedicated a large part of my life toward and I’m proud to be part of an organization and a community of others that also value hope so much that they guard it with their daily energies and even … their lives.

I would like to start by sharing something with you all that I believe embodies each and everyone who selflessly place’s the lives of others before their own.

It’s a space. It’s the space between PEACE, and an act of VALOR. The one probably doesn’t exist without the other.

PEACE is in a place-in-time where VALOR is not yet required - VALOR remains sheathed, holstered or reined-in. The sheath, the holster, and the reins… they are the HOPE that harmony, or tolerance will emerge naturally; and if not…. skill and action of our dedicated guardians of PEACE intercede with VALOR.

So it is in this space, between PEACE and VALOR, where the qualities of devotion, sacrifice and courage are the sum total of VICTORY over hopelessness and tyranny.

I’ve spent some years of my life among devoted and courageous Soldiers guarding that space, ON and IN FRONT OF the finest marble that makes the sarcophagus of The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

SFC (Ret) Chelsea Porterfield (2020-21)
SFC (Ret) Chelsea Porterfield (2020-21) presents remarks during the FPS annual wreath ceremony. Photo by FPS.

Three figures, are carved into that beautiful marble:

  • ● Peace – is holding a dove,
  • ● Victory – is holding a palm branch and
  • ● Valor – is holding a sword.
Peace - Victory - Valor
The east (front) side of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Photo by Rex Looney.

And, etched into the marble is the quote, ‘In Valor, There is Hope”. One of this nation’s greatest symbols of VALOR is this tomb. It stands among other symbols of VALOR around the world and cherished 24 hours every day of every year in every weather condition.

Though this sacred ground of the tomb is a place of PEACE it is a symbol of peace-shattered, and the great mortal sacrifice from so many who acted with the VALOR required that PEACE might once-again dominate.

PEACE is a space in time where we have the luxury to remember. We remember acts of VALOR, not out of guilt that we enjoy the security provided by others’ sacrifices. We remember acts of VALOR, not even out of simple appreciation for their courage. We HONOR the many acts of VALOR to stoke the fire of HOPE that EVERY heart has the capacity to defend PEACE from hopelessness, and the capacity to extend PEACE through VALOROUS action.

Hope in humanity that those who came before and those who come after will inherently be called to service, to their community in commitment to their nation.

The symbols and the acts of valor are our commitment to HOPE for peace followed by peace, and VALOR if necessary.

We nourish HOPE in our humanity to keep a promise of what this great nation is.

At the Tomb of the Unknown, the Soldiers of that sacred duty dedicate their very existence to the execution of that mission.

That mission embraced me and became a part of who I am. I became a part of something far greater than myself. It soon was no longer about being a Tomb Guard. It was about service, dedication and commitment to our community and reminding our nation to never forget the people who raised their hand to fight and serve to protect those who cannot.

We are here today to protect this eternal mission and revere our nations fallen. We continue to recognize the sacrifices. These sacrifices know no name, no age, no gender, no race or politics. In protecting this mission of HOPE, we fortify the space between PEACE and VALOR, so that every hopeful act will nourish humanity as a whole.

Flag Fold
The US Flag is folded by FPS Honor Guard during the 2022 wreath ceremony. Photo by FPS.

Today, we are here to commemorate the fallen.

Those who served with utmost dedication, commitment and most importantly love for their community and passion for their mission.

They are not forgotten

This poem reminds me of public servants. Dated 1866 carved in stone over a resting place for over 2,000 service members who gave their life fighting during the Civil War:

It reads, “their names and deaths are recorded in the archives of their country, and it’s grateful citizens honor them, as of their noble Army of martyrs. May they Rest In Peace”

The group that is here with me possesses something deep inside, something that will never change; patriotic values. Each day, we stand shoulder to shoulder next to our brothers and sisters, ready to answer the call of our communities and our nation.

Seven fallen officers who we remember here today, served their nation and their community with Distinction and honor. They understood what it meant to serve, protect, and defend what we are and what America stands for.

Officer John L. Suchodolsky, a distinguished veteran of World War II. He embodied what it means to defend this country and his community for the sake of future generations.

Officer Robert Lee Timberlake was a steward of his faithful profession. His dedication to his community inspired a family legacy to uphold service to the community and nation.

Officer Vincent Lebron-Ramos, served his nation first and continued to raise his right hand and served his community dutifully.

Officer Robert W. Yesucevitz first served and protected the United States Army as a Military Policeman. To Assist, Protect and Defend was something that was in his core values, he continued to place his own life before others by his continued services in homeland security.

Officer Michael James Doyle, a veteran of the Vietnam War. Through the muddiest waters of war, Officer Doyle knew only one way of living and that is through his dedication of love for his community and nation.

Officer Ronald Sheffield served honorably as a United States Marine during Desert Storm. Just 11 days after 9/11 devastated our nation he placed the lives of others before his own as his final act.

Inspector Lowery Ware Sr., served 20 years as an Air Force police officer and an additional 18 years with the Federal Protective Service. A total of 38 years of selfless service to our nation and community.

DHS Director of Operations Richard Cline, former Tomb Guard, listens to remarks during the 2022 FPS annual wreath ceremony. Photo by FPS.

The sacrifice of law enforcement officers is one of never-ending watchfulness. It is HOPEFUL and in hoping and acting, it is VALOROUS sacrifice. These acts are are a legacy for others to cherish, be inspired by and honor.

What inspires us to risk our own lives for others?

I can say that It’s not for fame or reward, not for place or for rank, you are not lured by ambition, or goaded by necessity, but in simple obedience to duty as you understood it. Those who have gone in the line of duty suffered all, sacrificed all, dared all, and died.

I’ve spent 20 years in the United States Army and I would die for my brothers and sisters or any American without question. Many of you can instinctively understand what this means.

In closing, I want to ask you this last question, “Will you live for them?” Will you join them?

Will you live for your brothers and sisters?

Will you live for those that have sacrificed all and died?

Will you live your life with honor and tribute your life’s poetry for those who’s stanza has ended?

Thank you.

You can watch the ceremony and listen to Chelsea speak by visiting: https://vimeo.com/702830795

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