Poem: When a Son Honors his Dad

An officer captures the heartbreaking moment a young son honors the memory of his fallen father


Calling all police poets! Police1’s new column highlights some of the inspirational, moving and funny poems authored by our readers.

This poem is by Sheriff Barry Hillestad (retired) who wrote this poem on the 12th anniversary of the death of Deputy Sheriff Chad Mechels as a tribute to Deputy Mechels and his son, Thomas Mechels. 

"Chad was shot and killed on March 15, 2009, while doing a welfare check in Turner County, South Dakota," writes Barry. "Thomas was two years old at that time. I served as the family liaison for the Mechels family and we have become very close friends.

"About four years later, Thomas wore his own uniform during our South Dakota Police Memorial Service at the state capitol in Pierre. He carried his dad's memorial carnation to the front of the church as Chad's name was read, placed the flower with others, and came to attention and offered his own salute to his dad. The moment was captured by Pierre Police Chief Bob Grandpre. That moment was the inspiration for this poem."

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Thomas Mechels salutes his fallen father during a South Dakota Police Memorial Service.
Thomas Mechels salutes his fallen father during a South Dakota Police Memorial Service. (Photo/Pierre Police Chief Bob Grandpre)

When a Son Honors his Dad

In a church, a few years ago officers lined up to remember the lost.

Their fallen brothers and sisters who have paid the ultimate cost.


They do so each year in the middle of May.

On what is known as Law Enforcement Memorial Day.


The names of the fallen are read, an officer marches forward without falter.

To the front of the church to lay down a flower at the altar.


The officer comes to attention and offers the dignity of a salute.

An expression of love and remembrance, so resolute.


One by one the names are read, as the officers carry out their duty.

One flower, one march, one name, single flowers now a bouquet of beauty.


But one year the ceremony changed, this time walking forward was a young lad.

Wearing his own uniform and badge, marched with his flower to honor his dad.


He laid the flower just as the others had done.

Came to attention, a father remembered by his son.


His right hand formed his salute, honoring his father’s memory.

With his father looking down from above, creating what a memory should be.


We have built monuments, placed flowers, gathered to share the memories we had.

But they seem to fall a bit short when a son honors his dad.


© March 15th, 2021, all rights reserved

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