Emilio J. Miyares is national president of Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS), a national network of survivors of police officers killed in the line of duty.
I was seven years old when my dad, Hialeah, Fla. Police Officer Emilio F. Miyares, was shot and killed on November 6, 1986. My parents were childhood sweethearts, so even at such a young age, seeing the heartbreak of my mother was difficult. I grew up overnight and became the man of the house with a new mission: to take care of my Mom and my sister.
My Dad wanted to help people, and he lost his life doing it. He was trying to catch a thief who instead of obeying the law, stood over him with a gun. My Dad put his hands up and said, "Wait, wait, I have kids!" The guy pulled the trigger, and changed our lives forever by taking my Dad's.
The hardest part is knowing those were my Dad's last words.
Growing up without a father was hard, but I don't know any different. I've mentored other surviving children who never even met their parent or were too young to have memories of them. My sister is one who was too young to have many memories of our Dad. Her memories are through the stories our family and Dad's friends share about what an incredible person he was.
Every time an officer dies in the line of duty, I think about the young surviving kids whose lives are changing in such a tragic way.
I'm a father now, and my middle daughter is about to turn seven. I can't help but think about the love my Dad felt for my sister and me in that moment.
I represent over 58,000 law enforcement survivors who have lost a family member or co-worker in the line of duty. That's over 58,000 people whose loved one should have come home safe after doing their job.
That's what people need to remember: law enforcement officers are doing their job to serve others and they want to come home safe to their spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends and family.
Can you imagine leaving for your job every single day and knowing there is a chance you are telling your loved ones "Goodbye" for the last time?
I wish I had a few extra minutes to tell my Dad how much I loved him, and to give him one last hug.
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Story produced by Mark Hudspeth. Editor: Joseph Frandino.