THANK YOU, BLESSINGS, AND FARE (THEE) WELL
BY DAN BATEMAN
This article marks the end of my 4-year tenure as your Chaplain and I cannot find adequate words to express my appreciation for your support and kindness. It’s been a whirlwind journey and exemplifies what the Holy Scriptures state in the Bible’s New Testament book of James in Chapter 4, verse 14: “You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Yes, the four years have flown by and you have been gracious to allow me to serve. It has always been my prayer God would use me to bring others closer to Him and I hope, in some way, my writings have done just that.
I also want to thank the Executive Board of the FBI National Academy Associates, the Executive Directors, and the staff who have worked with me over the years. The staff in particular has made me look far better than I deserved. The Board, Executive Director, and staff are some of the hardest working persons I know and have the membership’s best interests at heart. I have witnessed difficult but necessary decisions they have made and know they are always guided by those three words emblazoned on our logo: Knowledge, Courage, and Integrity.
This has been a difficult year in our profession. We are witnessing profound disrespect from some quarters. This has resulted in outright assaults on police officers causing death and injury. It has grieved me as I penned sympathy cards on your behalf to agencies who lost officers in the line of duty. Since its inception, I have sent hundreds of cards to various departments. With each handwritten and heartfelt note, I pray it will be the last note written to any agency or family. This year alone, we have lost 4 National Academy graduates to adversarial action. Their names will be placed in the hallowed Hall of Honor at the FBI Academy to be forever enshrined with other National Academy graduates who gave their all.
During my tenure as your Chaplain and at each FBINAA annual training conference, I have had the honor of remembering our graduates who have passed on since the last conference. Hundreds of graduates were recognized, honored, and remembered over the last four conferences. While it is a difficult task to identify, notify, and maintain accurate records of all of our graduates who have passed away during a particular year, your State secretaries and treasurers have been enormous help in notifying the staff and myself so proper recognition and sympathy can be extended. I have, at times, been able to contact the spouse or grown children of our deceased graduates and extend our sympathies on your behalf. Without exception, they are grateful for your thoughtfulness and share with me how important being a member of the National Academy Associates meant to their loved one. Yes, we are family.
I am excited for our new in-coming Chaplain, Jeff Kruithoff, who will serve the next four years! Jeff will tell more about himself but suffice it to say, Jeff is a man of God whose love for the Lord and heart to serve is so very evident in his life and his profession. Jeff is devoted to the FBI National Academy Associates and, even as I write this, is in the storm ravaged areas of Texas following Hurricane Harvey ministering to others through his work with the Billy Graham Chaplain Rapid Response Team. Jeff is representing you and the FBINAA as well wherever and whenever he can.
I pray you have enjoyed this journey with me as much as I have learned from you. My goal has always been to remind us of who we really are and be wary of who we could become if we are not anchored properly. Couched in the theme “Calling Us Back To Move Us Forward” is the understanding we know what pure motives drew us into this noble profession. However, by the very nature of what we do and how we must act in our careers, we face the constant pressure of “forgetting” how we are to be with those we should cherish the most…our families.
Whether it was recalling an important touchstone to remind us of what is most important or the mountaintops and valleys we face in our careers and in our homes, remembering is key to keeping us on the path. Likewise, important milestones change in our lives but should never disappear to be replaced by the stagnation of self-satisfaction. Finally, we were reminded of the oft-neglected transparency we need in our homes as we pour ourselves into our careers and, sometimes, leave little for those we need to love most.
As I close, I want to leave you with a few thoughts. First, you and the FBI National Academy Associates will always be in my prayers as I ask God to bless each and every one of you and the great responsibilities you bear in leading your officers. Secondly, while I bid you farewell, I prefer to use a more ancient rendering of the phrase by stating “Fare thee well” meaning “May all go well with you”. Even more pointedly, may I suggest you go with God who makes all things well , even in our darkest hours.
Finally, I conclude with an episode found the Bible’s Old Testament book of Genesis, Chapter 31, Verse 19 where Laban and Jacob made a covenant between each other: “It was also called Mizpah, because he said, “May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other.” This phrase, called Mizpah, is sometimes embodied in jewelry by a split coin made into two necklaces where these cherished words of commitment and promise are worn separately as a special covenant between two people. The coin is pictured here:
Only when the coins are brought together does the phrase become a complete statement once more and represents a renewal of that sacred covenant. And so it is a promise I make with you as I bid you “Fare thee well” – may the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other.
Peace and blessings,
Dan Bateman, Chaplain
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