There is a famous painting that is dear to all police officers. It was painted way back in 1958 by the artist Norman Rockwell whose work used to be on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post and other well-known magazines.
Mr. Rockwell's paintings were seen and beloved by millions of Americans. They depicted life in a small town where there was no violence, drugs, crime or hatred and police officers never got killed and children never disappeared. A world in which there were no drug traffickers or terrorists. A world in which people in whom we place our faith and trust never betray that faith and trust. Maybe his is a world that never was. But it is a world all Americans believe in and strive toward.
That painting is "The Runaway". It depicts a Massachusetts State Trooper -- Dick Clemens, a very nice man who is still around -- and a little boy who was running away. The two are sitting at a lunch counter enjoying a treat and obviously having become great friends. I have never seen a more perfect image of faith and trust.
It is a good idea to hold Mr. Rockwell's image your mind when you hear that someone in whom we should be able to place total faith and trust betrays them. It is not a common occurrence, but it does happen. It makes news. People get hurt. And it takes a long time for that faith and trust to be restored.
(For Z/Sgt. Patrick F. O'Reilly, NYSP)
Do you ever wonder why it is that some kids run away?
For lots of varied reasons those who know these things would say.
Some are angry. Some are scared. Some get lost, you know.
And some just want to find out what would happen if they'd go.
A painter, Norman Rockwell, by this matter was inspired.
One day at his easel came the image he desired.
And so did Norman dip his brush and then begin to paint.
Soon emerged a picture sentimental -- even quaint.
A little fellow makes his way along the road of life.
He cut the ties that bound him with his little pocket knife.
He bundled up his worldly goods and tied them to a stick.
He set out on the road alone. The way was his to pick.
He met a Trooper with his gun, his handcuffs and his shield
Who asked the boy some questions by which truth would be revealed.
"Now, tell me, son, why did you run? What are you looking for?
Is there some special reason why you left your parents' door?"
The kid would give no answer. He was silent as could be.
No name, address, nor age, nor school, nor favorite team had he.
Now, cops have ways of finding out whatever must be known.
And this one had a method quite unique and all his own.
"I guess we'll have to go downtown to find out the details."
The kid complied reluctantly, expecting he'd be jailed.
Soon they arrived, not at some keep surrounded by a moat,
But rather at a fountain where they shared an ice cream float.
Well, Norman's painting captures well a very simple truth
That might not be apparent to most people in their youth.
There's something called "authority"; respect it well we must.
At best, it's there to guide us if it has our faith and trust.
Each boy and girl sets out one day upon their own two feet.
I did. And I was lucky, for that Trooper did I meet.
Though long ago I took that knife and cut the ties that bind me,
I know today if I was lost, that he would come and find me.
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