By: Peggy Parker – Administrator of the Facebook Cause
~A Tribute To Those who Wear The Shield~
Superman Deputy Dewey…he got that nickname from this picture that was posted to his CaringBridge site. It was taken at Craig Hospital where he was flanked by his friends and fellow officers, Sheriff Doug Krier and Deputy Chad Petersen. In the photo he is wearing a yellow shirt emblazoned with the Superman symbol and the words “Deputy Dewey”. It didn’t take long for the nickname to stick with his CaringBridge followers. The name exemplified what we had all come to learn over the days, week, and months of following his journey. Chris was no quitter. He never gave up. He fought with a strength and determination that most are never privileged enough to witness. Chris Dewey and his devoted wife Emily gave us that. They allowed us to see the courage that kept him fighting for almost eighteen months. No matter how many times he got knocked down, he just kept right on getting back up again, fighting even harder.
beside him and fought with him. The growth of faith over those months inspired faith in us, renewed it in some, and awakened it in still others. I will never forget reading a note in their guestbook from a young man who admitted he had never had much respect for law enforcement officers. But learning about Chris and his daily battles, reading the posts to the journals, and even reading posts from the followers on the site had changed that for him. He closed with wishing him the best of luck and that he would be praying for them. So you see, it’s not an understatement or an exaggeration to say that they have changed lives far beyond those of their family and friends. I can’t begin to tell you how many posts started out with five little words. “You don’t know me, but…” The posters to their site came from every state in the country and even some from foreign countries. Some posted once, some posted occasionally, some posted daily. Many more included them in their prayers each day. The prayer chain of supporters, friends, family, and officers reached far and wide.
The miracles that were witnessed over those months were plentiful. The way Chris so quickly improved at first was one. The way he fought so hard to come back after a devastating bleed was another. Every day there was something new. On those days that were darker than others and problems seemed to come from all directions, those miracles and steadfast inspiration could still be found through Emily and the family as well as those who stood ready to help at any given moment. I don’t know about others that visited the site daily, but for me Sheriff Krier’s presence could always be felt. Perfect strangers offered their support through the site, through mail and donations, and some in person. And it didn’t stop with individuals. There are far too many to name but the efforts of those at Hornet Spiritwear and the Minnesota Twins come specifically to mind. Twice Hornet Spiritwear came through with lending their help in fundraising with special shirts. The Minnesota Twins dedicated a night to the area law enforcement and Chris where Emily spoke to the crowd and delivered a touching and yet uplifting message to all those in attendance and those who had a chance to view it later. Groups banded together and amassed fishing lures to send for that day when Chris would return home and finally have the chance to get a hook wet again. Prayer chains were begun and they soon interwove with others to form links so strong they could not be broken.
And the battle raged on. Chris continued to fight back each time another obstacle rose up in his path. Emily continued to stand strong at his side with her family and friends forever loyal and faithful. Awards were presented to him in honor of his sacrifice and his courage from both the American Police Hall of Fame and Museum and the Citizens of Mahnomen County, Minnesota. There’s no way for us to really know what was going through Chris’ mind during that presentation. But, from what we’ve learned about him, it was probably that everybody shouldn’t be making such a fuss about it all. Emily’s ‘Gentle Giant’ was a humble man and didn’t see himself through the eyes of others. I’m sure he would never call himself a hero just as no other officer I’ve ever met or talked to would. That doesn’t make him or them any less of a hero. One only has to consider what they face every day to begin to see why. And one only has to read the story of Deputy Christopher Dewey to see heroism in its truest form. There is a quote attributed to Aristotle that I have used more than once. “The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper.” As I have said before, that is the true definition of a hero. The soul of Chris Dewey fits that quote. So does that of Emily Dewey, Doug Krier, Chad Peterson, and a multitude of others that we have come to know during this time. These are people who stood strong during times that most of us will never have to face. They endured things that most of us can scarcely imagine, but will always pray that if we do have to face them, that we will face them with the faith, grace, strength, and dignity as what we have all witnessed.
won’t presume to speak for all those who have been touched in one way or another by this. But I can tell you something that I have learned. To me, a police officer is a hero. He or she will consistently place themselves between us and the dangers that surround us every day, without question, without hesitation. And I’ve long heard the phrases ‘thin blue line’ and ‘brotherhood of the badge’. I believe that one who is not a part of it can never understand the depth of the meaning of those phrases. I also believe that until you have witnessed it in action, you cannot fully understand them. In watching this epic battle for life, we have all been privileged to bear witness to the full power of those words. Every day brought a new revelation as Sheriff Krier and his family, fellow deputies and dispatchers, officers from all across the country banded together to not only let Chris know that they refused to give up on him, but also to offer their assistance in any way possible. Those are easy words to say. It is harder to follow them with action. These people followed through. The officers in the Denver area were amazing. They provided an enormous amount of help in many ways from visiting with them, helping them get around, and just being there for that much needed shoulder when that’s what the day required. There have been posts, visits, cards, and fund-raising efforts all along from officers from departments and jurisdictions all across the country. The blood of the brotherhood runs deep and it runs true. And, even though I’m not in law enforcement myself, I for one am very proud of that brotherhood.
I personally believe that the magnitude of the support and realization of just what Chris was going through would have never been possible without Emily. I’ve never met a woman of such strength before. The surrounding communities have rallied and supported them like nothing I’ve ever seen. The local media kept his name out there. Fund-raiser after fund-raiser was successfully held in an effort to provide whatever assistance that was needed. Through it all, Emily’s voice remained strong and true. Never once did she hesitate to tell us what she was feeling. Of course she had her bad days. There were so many setbacks. But, she shared those with us and leaned on those around her and her ever-growing faith to get her through those days. She became Chris’ cheerleader, his advocate, and his voice. Without her I don’t believe that Chris’ name and the knowledge of his daily battles would have been nearly as widespread. And there were others. Family and friends of not only the two of them, but those of Sheriff Krier and the other officers picked up the message and carried it forward. These were the people who spread the story across Facebook and a host of police related sites. These were the people who shared the news and encouraged others to visit and offer their support.
And through it all, there was Chris. He fought so valiantly and remained so determined. His strength was an amazing thing to watch. He gave us such an example to use in our lives. Never give up. What an inspiration to us all. What an inspiration to his brothers and sisters in uniform. It may take a village to raise a child, but imagine the courage and strength it takes to lead an entire brotherhood and an army of supporters from a hospital room. Chris had that courage. He had that strength.
We have no doubt that God had a higher purpose for Chris although we may never know what that purpose was. Perhaps it was to do just what he did…bring strangers together from around the world and instill that sense of brotherhood through them all. Maybe it was bringing light to those who had before been in darkness, opening a channel of understanding between those who thought there was no common path. Or maybe it was that reawakening, that resurrection of faith in some who had lost their way. Whatever His purpose, we cannot doubt that He used Chris to touch the hearts of the multitudes. And touch them he did.
Sadly, Chris’ body was just no longer able to keep fighting although I know that his spirit was ready to wage on. Heaven’s garden is a little brighter tonight with a new blue rose. And while it is sad that he’s no longer here in body, he’ll always be watching over us from a higher place. His fight is over and he has heard those much deserved words from the sweet voice that called him home. “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
To say farewell to one you love is quite possibly the most difficult task we ever have to face. Nothing can prepare us whether that loved one is young or old. Chris and Emily did not have the luxury of walking through life together for many years. But, there is no doubt that the ones they had were filled with a love that blessed not only them, but all around them. Our hearts are with this brave young woman as she faces the future. While our hearts hurt for her, I pray that we will all follow her request in one of the most recent posts to the CaringBridge site.
“…I understand that everyone wants to be able to DO something for me….so this is what it is: do a random act of kindness in Chris’ honor. Just something small: pay for the person behind you at McDonalds, offer to mow your elderly neighbor’s lawn, or maybe just give someone a big smile! These are the things that will help me to heal; that is something everyone could DO for us!…”
This is something that we can do to honor Chris’ memory, to honor his life. We can pass it on. We can do that random act of kindness. You don’t even have to tell anybody why. Just pass it on then lift your eyes to Heaven. Maybe give him a little wink. Chris will understand.
Emily stated in an interview that this is the closing of a chapter in her life. I’d like to take just a minute to close that chapter in mine as well. You would never think that someone standing on the outside looking in would be affected so deeply by all of this. But, I can look back now and remember the days of laughter and jubilation when we’d get a post telling us of something goofy Chris did or some achievement that he made. I can still feel that wave of excitement as I would rush over to Facebook and the police sites I frequent to let anybody and everybody who would listen know. I wanted to share the good news and the excitement with everybody I knew. And I remember the days of tears and pain when the posts weren’t quite so good. Those were the times when I rushed to those same sites to post that news too with fervent request for prayers. There were so many of us who waited minute by minute for the email to come that let us know there was a new post on the CaringBridge site. There were nights when I stayed up far past the time that email would normally come, waiting for news. Those were always scary nights. The posts usually came by a certain time. If the post came early, our hearts would skip a beat. If it came late, they would drop. Either one often signaled that something had happened. And sometimes that was the case.
I can’t imagine being in Emily’s shoes and I don’t mean to compare my hurt with hers. But, this man who wanted nothing more than to help others became a big part of my life. All he wanted to do was be there when he was needed. And he was. He put his life on the line for us. It was so unfair that he should be the one who had to suffer so greatly for that wish. I always felt a little ashamed because Emily was so strong and so steadfast in her faith when I wasn’t. There were so many times that I waivered and asked God questions that I know I should not have been asking. “Why? Why would You let this happen? Why him? Why can’t You make him better when he’s such a good man that had such a bad thing happen to him? Why do You keep letting him get knocked back down when he works so hard to get up again?” And honestly, I’m still not as strong as she has been. The day before we learned that he wasn’t going to make it, I ordered a new shirt as part of the fundraiser to bring him home. I can’t put it on. I look at it. I can take it out of the closet. But, I can’t put it on. Maybe someday I can wear it in his honor, but not today.
There were so many times that I wished for a magic wand to wave and make it better. Days upon days I wanted to be there to just be someone to lean on or talk to, scream at, or hold on to when things were bad. My heart broke for Chris and for Emily. It broke for Sheriff Krier and Deputy Petersen. It broke to read a post by Chris’ brother about the pride and admiration he felt for this man that he loved so much. And it broke because I couldn’t fix it. I wanted to fix everything for all of them. But, I couldn’t. And I still can’t. What I can do is try to live by the example that Chris set for us all. Never give up. Don’t quit. No matter how many times you get knocked down, don’t stay down. Get up. Give yourself to others without question and without hesitation.
I will never forget you, Chris. You gave so much to so many without even knowing it. You will always be my hero. I will not say goodbye. We will meet again at God’s garden of blue roses.
Written By: Peggy Parker – Administrator of the Facebook Cause
~A Tribute To Those who Wear The Shield~