A little boy's paper Canadian flag

A Tribute to Jennifer Kovach

by Constable Ken Rodd

March 13, 2013 - Today has been one of the saddest days I can remember.  I felt honored to be part of the procession and to see the tremendous support from our community following the on-duty death of Jennifer Kovach.  It was an amazing sight to see and I know it must have warmed the heavy hearts of Jennifer Kovach’s family and friends.

After the procession we filed into the arena packed with members of other emergency services, hospital staff, government officials and members of Jen’s community. 

Several times I fought back my emotions as speeches were read, songs were sung and the lone piper started up with Amazing Grace.  I shed a tear or two, but tried to stay strong because police officers are not supposed to cry.  Despite the sadness, the atmosphere was one of celebration and remembering just how special Jen was. 

Later in the day as I walked out of the reception with one of my friends, I was thinking to myself that I made it through the day without breaking down in front of my friends.  I sure did not want to go in for the day shift in the morning.  I was drained.  I didn’t really feel like having to be the mediator, referee and voice of reason again tomorrow.

Paper Canadian FlagAs I walked towards my truck I noticed a mother and her two children headed our way.  The youngest boy was carrying a small paper Canadian Flag.  His mother said he’d been waiting outside the reception so that he could give it to a police officer.  His class had made them today and most had put their flags on the fence opposite the reception with a sign that said Thank You.  However her son wanted to give his flag to one of the police officers.

He must have been 4 or 5 years old and he had his head bowed.  I knelt down and he shyly said,”I’m sorry for your loss. Thank you for keeping me safe.”  He handed me the paper Canadian flag he had taped to a wooden cloths pin.

I thanked him for the flag and told him I might just have something for him.  I pulled two Guelph Police shoulder flashes from my coat pocket and gave one to him and one to his older brother. A warm feeling came over me as he thanked me and looked up at me and smiled.  I wondered if someone else above was also watching and smiling.  I thanked him again and headed for my truck with his little paper flag.

I sat in my truck and wondered if he really understood the sacrifice Jen made.   I looked at his flag and a tear fell onto it and I wiped my eyes.  It was just a simple piece of paper but yet it meant so much.  It represented what this community and this country are all about.  It represents the unity of our people and our special caring way of life.

The flash I’d given him was just a piece of sewn and stitched cloth. To him it was a treasure, but it represented more than that.  It stood for Pride, Honor and Trust.  They are the values that Jen believed in and values that became even more meaningful to me today.  

I called home then and was relieved to hear my son’s voice as he answered the phone.  All kinds of thoughts were running though my head as I pulled away from the parking lot.  I felt very lucky and grateful.  As I turned onto Stone Road, the tears started and I couldn’t stop them.  I cried most of the way home and then stopped and wiped my eyes before heading up the street and into the driveway. 

As I sit now and write my thoughts from today I wonder if that young lad knew what he actually had done for me.  He brought closure to a very sad day.  He helped me realize that the people of this community do care and understand the sacrifice Jen made.

I know that Jen would want us to keep at it, chin up and smiling. I’ve placed a fresh shirt and pants on the couch so that I am ready to head out the door tomorrow morning.  I’ve got a young boy and a community to serve.  With the help of my fellow officers, our city’s emergency services, the people of this community, and a very special Angel, we will continue to strive to keep Guelph the safest city in Canada.

Thank you to all, and especially that little boy, for honoring Jen. 

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