COMMENTARY: Honoring those who serve and sacrifice

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Alan Golub, of Hayden, created this art honoring two police officers who died while responding to natural catastrophes in their communities.

The nation has come together to provide assistance and prayers for our fellow citizens suffering the effects of Hurricane Harvey. With that, we mourn the loss of Sgt. Steve Perez, who lost his life in swift high waters under an overpass in Houston.

The tragedy brought to mind a parallel mishap one night in January of 1994 when LAPD Motorcycle Officer Clarence Wayne Dean rode his motorcycle off an overpass that had been severed during the Northridge Earthquake in Los Angeles.

Both officers responded to their respective disasters out of a strong sense of duty. Neither had to be on the road. Perez’s wife advised him not to go under the dangerous circumstances.

Officer Dean, off duty during the earthquake, left his Lancaster home with lights flashing. He drove into the air off the broken I-5 and Highway 14 interchange.

Both officers responded to their colossal natural disasters at high personal risk to come to the aid of their fellow citizens.

I knew Clarence very well. He was my one and only friend on the LAPD. Working out of Van Nuys, he got my friend and business neighbor Gary Becker to sign up for the police auxiliary. He would come in and visit our family machine shop run by my dad, Sy Golub, and I.

Clarence Dean nicknamed me “Crazy Legs” because I worked in the heat in shorts and a shop coat. I always responded by affectionately calling him a name I cannot repeat here. Our language was crude but I knew he would stop a bullet for me.

I also knew he loved his son, Guy, and daughter, Traci, very much. He was very proud of them but regretted not spending more time with them in their childhood. Looking back, a lot of us dads feel the same way.

Like a big kid, Dean loved to joke and put people at ease. In keeping with his character, at his funeral attended by the mayor, dignitaries and thousands of law enforcement formally attired, loud speakers by his grave blasted Clarence’s favorite song, Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild.”

“Get your motor running…head out on the highway…looking for adventure…in whatever comes our way.”

The song’s opening words personified Officer Dean’s life.

Sgt. Perez and Officer Dean are heroes. The years do not diminish great personal sacrifice. It was my honor to create a poster memorializing these two fine gentlemen as I did for our Sgt. Greg Moore and New York Detective Brian Moore killed a day apart in the line of duty in May of 1995.

It was also my honor to personally deliver the posters to the NYPD 105th Precinct.

I got to know Brian’s dad, Ray Moore, who lives every day feeling the needless loss of his 25-year-old son.

Thank you President Trump for returning love and respect for all our veterans and active military, law enforcement, and first responders. It’s ordinary men and women coming from thousands of miles with their boats, jet skis and high-clearance vehicles to Texas and Louisiana to help rescue people they don’t even know.

The same appreciation goes out to the linemen from Avista and other utilities to restore power to the region. Each and every one is a hero. This is our finest hour, America’s Dunkirk.

Americans have turned Hurricane Harvey into a golden opportunity by uniting citizens of all races in a necessary turn away from vicious, petty bickering and division.

Former Israeli P.M. Golda Meir once said, “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”

Likewise, peace and greatness will return to our land when we love each other more than we hate anyone, including President Trump.

• • •

Alan Golub is a resident of Hayden.

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