Honoring Deputy Brandon Coates

“When you are born, you cry, and the world rejoices. When you die, you rejoice, and the world cries.” ~Unknown

Yesterday was the beginning of Deputy Brandon Coates’ Memorial Services. I had the honor of attending his visitation/viewing alongside Jason’s squad. It was a very long day filled with many emotions, many of which could never be explained with words.

Before we left for the services Jason’s grandmother stopped by to help care for the kids for the day. She’s so sweet and has always been an amazing help when we’ve needed her most. She was here with out question. I recall before we left she said to Jason, what I believe most family & friends of law enforcement officers and military say or at least think…”Why?” Yes, she told him she didn’t know why he had to choose such a dangerous profession and reminded him of how much he was loved. Jason’s response I know is exactly what virtually any police officer would say, “because somebody’s got to do it…”  Yes, somebody must take on the risk and every single person who does considers it an honor to. It takes courageous individuals to put their lives at risk every day and I know most do so realizing this risk, yet still serving honorably to help protect us all. Needless to say, as we mourn the loss of Deputy Brandon Coates’ we’re all reminded of the reality of the profession…and now all we can do is pray…for Brandon’s family and for all those who serve as law enforcement day in and day out.

Those that know me know it’s not uncommon for me to carry my camera virtually everywhere I go and of course I did have it attached to me during the services. I certainly was a bit hesitant to take many photos, however, I was encouraged to do so during some moments of the day.

I was alongside Jason’s squad and their spouses most of the day. Jason’s squad worked directly with Brandon every night and so it was only fitting for them to be closely beside him throughout every moment of the day. His casket was escorted by his squad the their motorcycle unit to the church and once at the church the Honor Guard escorted him into the church. It was a moment that certainly left us all moved.

Anytime a police officer or firefighter is killed in the line of duty the 9-11 flag is flown to the funeral services as a sign of our country’s respect and recognition of the fallen officers service. The Florida State Troopers sent a police escort from the airport to the Church to carry the flag directly to the funeral. The flag was still in it’s highly protective case to show just how important it is to our country. Yes, this is the flag that was standing at ground zero on 9-11 and is said to be fragile and worn, yet still very much alive and serving as a memory of all the fallen officers and firefighters who gave their lives during 9-11.

Though the actual 9-11 flag remained in the case upon it’s arrival, there was still an official ceremony accepting it’s presence at Brandon’s funeral to signify the exchange of the flag. It was on display at the visitation/viewing and will remain until after Brandon’s funeral.

I don’t think words can really explain the emotions or the bond between the deputies evident since Brandon’s passing. I have learned that Brandon was known to bring unity to his squad and I think they all agree that they have never been closer as a squad. Yes, something tells me Brandon’s still finding ways to pull everyone even closer together. After one of the squad gatherings prior to the visitation some of the squad members gathered. It was a touching moments that definitely left me speechless.

Today is expected to be another long day as we attend Brandon’s funeral and burial. The funeral will be held at the First Baptist Church of Orlando and is expected to be filled with law enforcement officers from around the country, friends & family, and members of the community. If you are unable to attend the funeral I have learned the WFTV plans to stream the funeral services live online and I imagine they may be doing the same on TV. This is the first police funeral I have attended so I anticipate it to be a moving and honorable service. I’ve been told by many that everyone should find it in themselves to attend a police funeral at least once in their lifetime…as a way of showing respect to those who serve to protect us all but also because police funerals are said to be among the most moving services you may ever witness.

Even if you are unable to attend the funeral, I hope you all take a moment today to say a prayer for Brandon, his family, and all the law enforcement officers who risk their lives daily.

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