Today, I hugged a cop. Not because he let me off of a speeding ticket. Not because of some kind act or random gesture that he did for me. I didn't hug him because he helped me when I locked my keys in my car on a hot Summer day. Not for any specific reason at all. Today, I hugged a cop because I think he needed it and deep down, I think I did, too.

Today, I hugged a cop. I didn't see a race or religion. I didn't look at the weapon by his side. I didn't know who he was voting for or where he stood on controversial issues. I didn't see a uniform, but a person with a soul. A person who deserved love. Whenever I turn on my television screen, my mind is flooded with images and news stories reminding me just how cruel the world can be, full of so much hatred and violence. I turn on the TV, turn it back off and then go back to my normal routine. But somewhere out there, there is a cop who is needing a hug because he or she doesn't get to change the channel or turn the television off, instead, they walk out their front door preparing to take on the evil of the world one day at a time. They risk their lives to protect the ones they love, the ones they've never met, and for the ones who even take them for granted.

I think it takes a special person to be a cop. A person with loads of compassion, a strong love for others, and a huge willingness to protect the lives of others even when it isn't easy. I think it takes a special person to stand in the line of fire to protect citizens even when those who are protecting are the main targets. I think it takes a special person with a big enough heart to love a community deeply enough to risk their lives for those who sometimes show them so much hate. I think it takes a special person to put on a uniform and emotionally never take it off.

So for those special men and women in blue, thank you.

I know that the job you have is tough. I know that whenever the dream of being a law enforcement officer first began to grow in your heart, you never imagined that you'd see the day where your life would be in such danger while on duty, but thank you for continuing to give it. I know that whenever you kiss your babies and hug your husband or wife, sometimes you're uncertain on if you'll get to embrace them again. I know that sometimes your job as a police officer requires you to do and see some really hard things, but thank you for doing them. I know that whenever you put on your uniform and your badge that you're not just wearing a few pieces of clothing, but you're reminding the world of how you'll do your best to protect them, so thank you for suiting up. I know that whenever you turn on your television screen and see the things unfolding in our nation that your heart breaks too. I know that whenever you hear of the loss of a fellow brother or sister in blue that your heart aches because you're a family, but thank you for having a heart big and strong enough to work through your grief. I know that sometimes as a law enforcement officer that your heart becomes heavy and sometimes you want to give up, but I want you to know that I see you and I appreciate you.

I see you not just as a police officer. I see you as a person with a heart and soul. I see that you're a mother, father, son, daughter, husband, or wife. I see you whenever you're sitting all alone at a restaurant eating your meal. I often wonder what all you've see during your day. I often wonder if you've had a day filled with simple traffic stops or directing school zone traffic. I often wonder if you've spent your day dealing with things much heavier, like domestic incidences, dodging bullets, or difficult child cases. If I let my mind wander too much, it begins to get overwhelmed when I think of the things you've seen.

I see you whenever you're out with your family enjoying your day and you get an emergency call from work needing your assistance. I see the way you stop what you're doing, kiss your spouse and children, and head out into a situation or circumstance of uncertainty ready to do your duty no matter what the price. I see the way your face falls whenever you hear of arguments over which lives matters and you are labeled "good" or "bad cop" because of poor decisions from other people. I see you whenever you miss holidays with your loved ones and huge milestones with your kids because you're on call. I see you whenever you so patiently and selflessly do your job and continuously get criticized for it. I see you whenever you get discouraged and feel that you aren't appreciated and I want you to know that you are.

I appreciate the way that you continue to do your job in a time when being a law enforcement officer is scary. I appreciate the way that you are ready and willing to do whatever you can to make sure I feel safe walking through a parking lot at night. I appreciate the way that you work through the heaviness in your heart after losing a brother or sister in blue and you continue to risk your life to simply protect mine. I see you. I appreciate you. I love you.

I think God knew exactly what He was doing whenever He made certain people law enforcement officers. Today, I hugged a cop simply to say thank you. I encourage you to do it, too.