Tag Archives: Mike Veasey

Three decades as a Philly Cop come to a close

Recruit training, Philadelphia Police Academy, summer 1990

This past Friday, January 19, was my last official day on the payroll of the Philadelphia Police Department. After nearly three decades, I hung up my badge and gun, riding off into the sunset of retirement.

I come from a Philly Cop family. My brother, Mike, remains on the job as a Sergeant with the Central Detective Division. For a few years way back in the early 1990’s we were partners working a police wagon.

Our father, Matthew Veasey Jr (I’m the third), had been a Philly Cop himself for three decades from 1960 through 1989. He passed away back in August knowing that my retirement was coming up. If you combine his and my own service, the calendar year of 2019 will be the first in a half-century without a Matthew Veasey serving in uniform.

We also have a pair of cousins on the job. John Bernard is a Detective and Bob Veasey is a police officer. So even though I’m now out, the family influence remains within the Philly law enforcement ranks.

Trying to write about all of the experiences that I had, all of the people who made a difference, in one piece would be an exercise in futility. There were so many, I could write a book. Maybe some day I will do just that. I certainly understand how so many cops have written books and scripts in the past. There are that many amazing, wild, and touching stories.

But I will take a few paragraphs to glance back at my career as both a general reminder, and as a sample of where a career in the police profession can take you.

I started out by taking the written exam in December 1989. I had just turned 28 years old, and had been working in the banking profession for the previous decade since my graduation from high school.

This wasn’t my first time taking the police test. I took it previously way back in 1980 as an 18-year old. At that time, I passed the written test as well as all of the subsequent exams and checks.

Unfortunately, for one of the few times in history, not only was the PPD not hiring, they were actually laying off officers. I remained on a hiring list for two years while that layoff and city hiring slowdown continued. My list eventually expired, and by that point I was settled in to my job with First Pennsylvania Bank.

By the time that 1989 testing opportunity came around, I had moved over to Fidelity Bank. Though I was making better money in a more responsible position, I still wasn’t seeing much of an interesting future for myself in the banking profession.

In those days, the city actually gave you a booklet to study for the written test. I studied hard, and it paid off. When the results came out, I had finished high. By the end of January 1990, I was attending the orientation session at the old Academy facility on State Road.

Over the next few months there were numerous tests: psychological, psychiatric, lie detector. There was a background check in which neighbors and family members were contacted about my conduct and character.

I passed everything with flying colors, and entered the Philadelphia Police Academy as a member of Class 289 on April 23, 1990. The next five months were like being back in high school. Classroom work, homework, and studying. There was regular physical training that got me into the best shape of my life.

In mid-September of 1990 our class graduated. I was assigned to the 6th District, the same place as my brother, who had graduated the previous year. The 6th served an extremely diverse area in those days, stretching from Broad Street down to the Delaware River, and from South Street up to Poplar Street.

The Veasey Boys, 6th District wagon crew in the early 1990’s

While there are districts with far worse violent crime situations, few could rival the 6th District for the variety of assignments and citizen interactions. You went from a job in the drug-infested Richard Allen Homes projects on one call to the wealthy inhabitants of Society Hill for the next.

There was a thriving gay community, the burgeoning club scene along Delaware Avenue, and the boardwalk atmosphere of South Street. The entire downtown area was a hodgepodge of residents, visitors, workers, and transients. It was a great place to learn how to interact with people from all walks of life, and from all socio-economic backgrounds.

We had great cops in my squad, many of whom stayed together for much of the more than six years that I was in the district. One of those cops was my brother, Mike. He and I would spend much of the early 1990’s as partners working a patrol wagon together.

My brother passed the Sergeant test and moved on, and for a couple of years I worked mostly on a solo patrol car, though I still occasionally worked a wagon with other partners.

In late 1995, I took the exam for Detective, finishing at 103 out of hundreds on the list. In January of 1996 the department promoted 89 people to the rank, going through 96 names on our list to get them. This left me just seven slots away, but now I had to wait. That wait lasted most of the year.

That promotion to Detective finally came in November 1996 when I received the gold shield and began my investigative career with the East Detective Division. In more than four years at EDD it became obvious to me that cops who worked the “Badlands” of the 25th District saw more violent crime in a year than I had in six years at the 6th District.

It was so consistently violent in East Division that we had a phenomenon known as the “Nine O’clock Shooting” – there was a shooting nearly every night on the 4×12 shift somewhere around that time.

Headed out for first day as a Detective in November 1996

The Detectives, supervisors, and cops who I met during my time at East were some of the best that the profession has to offer. A number of the Detectives from our division would eventually move on to assignments at Homicide, basically the investigative elite.

Just after Christmas in 1999, I transferred to the Northeast Detective Division. This was mostly just a move to get a closer commute from my home, as my family had moved up to the Somerton section of Far Northeast Philly earlier that year.

Any thoughts that it might be quieter at NEDD than it had been at EDD went out the window on my very first night. Working a 4×12 shift, I got more jobs that night than I had in a typical night at East. And not only that, but I got a shooting that night. Yep, the old “Nine O’clock Shooting” followed me.

Just how bad the crime situation had gotten in the 15th District of Northeast Philly was a bit of an eye-opener. It would turn out that Northeast Division, while not as consistently violent as East, was every bit as busy from a policing and investigative perspective.

What I gradually found during the two and a half years that I worked at NEDD was that I was missing the streets. This was something that was a bit of a surprise to me. When I made Detective, became a member of the Gold Badge Club, and got to wear business clothes every day, I thought that I would never put on a uniform again.

But the cop bug began to bite again, and I took the test for Sergeant in the spring of 2002. I thought that I did well, but you never really know with those things until the results come out.

Final annual qualification at the shooting range, September 2017

In early August, my wife and I were preparing to go away on a vacation to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The day before we left, my phone rang. It was my Sergeant at the time, Mark Burgmann, who said just one word: “Ten.

I knew his voice, but was in vacation mode and just wasn’t getting the context. “Ten what?” was my response. “You came out number ten on the Sergeant list.” I thought for sure that he was messing with me. I figured that I must have done well, but that he was bumping me up a bit. Turns out he wasn’t.

What that meant was, as long as the city actually hired off the list, I was getting promoted again. It was just a matter of time. Turns out, it was a lot of time.

There were no promotions off that list into 2003. Finally that spring, some seven months after the test results were announced, I was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

Following the promotional ceremony at Temple University, all of the promotees went to a downstairs area. There we were to turn in our old badges, and receive our new ones, along with our new assignments.

As I waited in line for my turn to get my new badge and assignment, a friend of mine, Brian McBride, was in line in front of me. Brian was also making Sergeant. When he got close enough to see the list, he turned to me and said “18th.”

In my head I thought “18th?” Honestly, I couldn’t even have told you where the 18th District was at that time. All I knew was that it was somewhere out in West Philly, a section of the city where I had never worked, lived, or traveled.

The 18th District headquarters is located at 55th and Pine Streets. When I tell you that there is no easy or quick way to get there from my home at the far end of the 7th District in Northeast Philly, well, that is an understatement.

Visiting with granddaughter Elysia as an 8th District patrol Sergeant in 2006

During the year that I spent out in the 18th, there were two days where, coming home on daywork do to severe traffic problems, it took me two hours to make the drive – without ever leaving the city of Philadelphia.

The 18th turned out to be a great learning experience, including that I got to know a section of the city that was unfamiliar to me. Approximately one-third of the district was taken up by the University of Pennsylvania, which afforded a number of opportunities to work with and around some great events such as the Penn Relays and Big Five games at the Palestra.

Two of the best medical facilities in the country, the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) are in the 18th. Working with their E/R staffs was a great experience as well.

But it was just too far to travel every day, and the first opportunity that I got, I put in a transfer looking to move somewhere closer to home again. It took about a year, but in March of 2004 that transfer came through sending me up to the 8th District in Northeast Philly.

The transfer to the 8th was a godsend as far as travel goes, but it came with a qualification. I had to accept a “Last Out” assignment for the first time in my career. While at East Detectives, the department had briefly switched to a schedule that saw us work “around the clock” shifts for about a year. But this would be the first time that I had to work the overnight “graveyard shift” on a daily  basis.

Graduating from St. Joseph’s University in May 2009

For nearly four years, the 8th District was my home. It was very close to my actual family home, about a 10 minute drive. And it turns out that I was able to adapt to working overnight fairly easily. I did switch to a “regular” squad schedule of daywork and 4×12 for a year, but found that I actually preferred overnights, and so switched back.

Then in the fall of 2007, almost on a whim, I put in a transfer request that would change my life. Ever since high school, I had always wanted to be a teacher. That desire had never left me, and that it had never happened became a regret as I moved through my banking and police years.

I had never attended college, not one class, when in the fall of 2003 while at the 18th District at age 41, I finally changed that situation. The PPD had a working arrangement with the Community College of Philadelphia which allowed officers a chance to take classes at the Police Academy in their spare time. I signed up for the program, and finally began to work towards a degree.

Taking classes year-round, which continued as I moved to the 8th District, I finally attained my Associates Degree in Criminal Justice from CCP in May of 2006. I then moved immediately on to Saint Joseph’s University to begin work towards a Bachelor’s Degree, which I would receive in 2009.

The school experience reignited my overall interest in education, and so in the fall of 2007 came that life-altering transfer request to the PPD Training Bureau. The transfer came through, and November 1 of that year began a decade-long run as an educator.

Teaching at Philadelphia Police headquarters in October 2013

I was finally getting to do what I had really always wanted. It was a natural fit, standing in front of a classroom and presenting police professionals the information that would help them do a better job in serving the public while also staying safe.

That was where my journey ended this past Friday. It was a journey that allowed me front row and behind-the-scenes exposure to some of the great events in Philadelphia over these past three decades.

Like most Philly cops, I worked all of the big Philly events, including things like the “Welcome America!” celebration around July 4th, the Greek Picnic, the annual bike race through Manayunk, the Dad Vail Regatta, and multiple “Freedom Medal” ceremonies.
I worked the Mummers Parade at a number of spots over the years, including four that stand out. With my brother in the early 90’s, we were the “beer wagon”, holding and transporting any cases that were confiscated by officers. Needless to say, there were many.

I worked the “Two Street” parade night celebration just once, about five years ago. And in both 2016 and 2017 got to work really fun assignments as a supervisor out on Broad Street, including right at City Hall a year ago.

In recent years there were multi-day details for the visit by Pope Francis in 2015, and the NFL Draft a year ago. While I didn’t have to work the Democratic Convention in the summer of 2016 thanks to a scheduled vacation, another political gathering was a career highlight.

In summer 2000 while I was still at East Detectives, the Republican National Convention came to Philadelphia. I was detailed to work for two weeks at the Dignitary Protection Unit, and was paired with a Philly cop named Billy Stuski, who was also from South Philly.

Billy and I were teamed up with a pair of cops from the District of Columbia Police Department as the security detail for U.S. Senator Don Nickles of Oklahoma for the duration of the convention. Nickles was the Senate Majority Whip, one of the key spokespersons of the GOP at that time.

My Dad, retired Philly PD Captain Matthew Veasey, visits my office at the new Training Bureau in June 2016

For two weeks we went everywhere that the Senator went. Sometimes we did “advance” work, scouting out the locations that he was to visit the day before his actual trip. Most of the time we accompanied him around the city.

This was both during formal convention-related events, usually in the evening, and also during social events, such as various dinners, lunches, concerts, and more. He was an avid golfer, which got me into a handful of prestigious locations such as Merion and Pine Hill, where he shot rounds during his stay.

When reading this, you’ll note that I didn’t “name names” very much, other than my family. There are just too many of them. Suffice it to say that nearly every person who I worked with and got to know thanks to this career was appreciated.

Also, I didn’t tell many specific stories. I’ll save those for future police-related pieces here. Or maybe for some future book or script. There are a million of them.

At my retirement party on Friday night, a nice crowd showed up from all across these last 28 years. I was honored with a plaque and some very nice words that summed up my career. And then I was handed the microphone, always a dangerous proposition when I’ve had a few beers.

I kept it fairly short. But one statement that I made summed it up. Of all things, it was a takeoff of a Priscilla Presley quote from “The Naked Gun” when she made the statement “I like cops!” because I do. Actually, I love cops. And I love teaching. For the last decade, I got to teach cops.

Short of managing the Phillies, I can’t think of a better job for myself. Also, it was the prototypical “square peg in a square hole” – a perfect job for my tastes and my talents.

Thank you to the Philadelphia Police Department for all of the various opportunities of the last three decades. And more importantly, thank you to all of the unforgettable people who wear the badges and carry the guns. The men and women who stand the wall and work hard to keep our city safe around the clock every single day.

For nearly three decades, I was honored to continue a family tradition. I was honored to stand as a member of the Thin Blue Line. After my promotion to Sergeant, I was told by a Detective that “once a member of the Gold Badge Club, you’re always a member.” Well, for the rest of my life, I’ll be happy to remain a member of the Blue Family.

2017: the year that I lost my Dad – but in the end, not really

Mike, our Dad, and myself in the late 1960’s

The calendar is about to flip not only to the end of a month, but also to the end of another year. The end of December causes most of us to take a glance back at the events of the past year. As usual, this one was filled with many good times

But the calendar year of 2017 was a year of goodbyes for me as well. The biggest goodbye of all was one of the hardest of my life. This was the year that I had to say goodbye to my Dad.

I’m sure that many of you can say something similar to this regarding your own fathers. My Dad, Matthew Joseph Veasey Jr, was my hero. He was also very much a role model and inspiration. But it wasn’t always that way.

Many of the memories that I hold from childhood and my teenage years regarding my relationship with my Dad are way too personal to share publicly. The specifics of those memories belong kept between he and I, and a few close family members.

Suffice it to say that I was the test case for challenging my Dad. I have a younger brother, Mike, and I’m fairly certain from conversations that we all had in later years that he would back me up on that fact.

I grew through my teen years and tried to spread my wings away from the control of this tough-guy U.S. Marine and Philadelphia Police boss. It didn’t always go smoothly.

But through those difficult years we learned a greater respect for one another. And the fact that I had already softened him up made things a little easier on my brother coming up right behind me. You’re welcome, Bro.

As I said, my Dad was a Philly cop, rising through the ranks to retire as a Captain after three decades of service to the community. I took the test at the age of just 18 as well, and passed through all of the preliminaries. Unfortunately for me, this was the one time in the last half-century that the PPD was going through actual layoffs and not hiring anyone new.

Despite taking that test and my father’s career choice, I never had some overwhelming urge to become a police officer myself during my 20’s. After that early test, I never even considered that line of work.

Dad (L) with Mike & I and our families, summer 1993

I began to draw closer to my Dad during the decade of the 1980’s. He got much more political in his 40’s, and recruited me to help out with those efforts. This involved volunteer work on a couple of Philly mayoral races, and his move into the presidency of the Philadelphia Emerald Society, a local Irish organization.

Conversations that we had during those years definitely can be given credit for at least planting seeds of change in me. I was a liberal Democrat to that point in life. He had become much more conservative.

While I disagreed with many of his positions in our discussions, which at times bordered on arguments, he forced me to think and to defend my own thought process.

Over time, I would challenge myself in my worldview, leading to more open-minded self-education on my part. This ultimately led to a wholesale change that was much more in line with his thinking.

I made him a grandfather twice over in those 1980’s, and at a young age. This allowed him to enjoy decades with his granddaughters, who he loved unconditionally. He wanted to be called “Grandfather” by them, because he felt it was more regal. Though we busted his chops on that choice of title over the years, the girls embraced it and him, returning his love completely.

That ‘busting chops’ aspect would become a staple of conversations involving him, my brother, and I during the 1990’s. Over the last three decades of his life, those little dining table discussions among the three of us will always remain some of my own life’s favorite moments.

Following his retirement in late 1989, our Dad moved down to Florida. He would spend the last quarter-century of his life there, but returned to the Philly area for regular visits. Even though we all eventually gained a greater ability to stay in close touch via access to the Internet and cell phones, he stated “I need hugs”, and would make his way up to Philly for a visit.

As he was retiring, I had decided to take another shot at the Philly police test myself. At age 28, I aced the test and was in the Police Academy by April 1990. My brother had already done the same a year ahead of me.

Dad, with myself and Mike at my Police Academy graduation 1990

I know for a fact that nothing ever made our Dad prouder than having both of his boys serving as police officers. He loved passing along advice in the early years of our careers, and then just listening to our own ‘war stories’ as those careers unfolded. We both advanced to supervisory positions, which only made him prouder. And of course, that shared experience in uniform only drew us closer.

His last visit north had come in the early summer of 2016. Then at Christmas a year ago, our Dad began to experience symptoms from the rare form of lung cancer that would eventually take his life. He struggled all through 2017, back and forth to various doctors, in and out of hospitals.

Mike and I finally flew down to Florida to visit him in mid-August. Dad had been in the hospital for two weeks that time, and we were both feeling serious apprehension.

We got to visit with him on a Saturday, spending much of the day together. Though it was in a hospital room with Dad obviously laboring to breathe rather than sitting around a dining room table, he was still as feisty of spirit as ever.

At that point, he was still holding out hope. He knew that he was battling a terminal condition. But there were tests results still to come. His hope was that he could be stabilized, go home, and begin some form of treatment that would give him a few months, if not a couple more years.

It wasn’t to be. He did return home with his loving wife Vicki just a couple of days later, but it was to hospice care. There was nothing more the doctors could do. He died the next weekend.

Unlike when our Mom passed away suddenly back in 1998 at just age 58, I was much more emotionally and spiritually prepared for this one. But it was still a gut punch. I let my tears out just once, with my wife Debbie.

Taking part in his funeral services down in Florida and back up here in Philly was cathartic. I was honored by Mike in allowing me to speak on our behalf at both ceremonies. Both church communities were fantastic. Here in Philly, both the USMC and the PPD presented him with honors. Dad would have been moved and proud.

Dad’s USMC flag presentation and PPD Honor Guard gun salute in Philadelphia

‘Matthew J’ was a tough guy, but he was always an emotional man. Life threw difficult challenges his way as a child, as a young father, as a veteran police boss, and as an older man. He fought his way through all of them with tenacity, a refusal to back down or surrender that would be a lesson that absolutely wore off on me.

On one of his visits north just a few years back, I went along with him to the cemetery outside of Philly where much of his family was buried. This included a visit to the graves of his mother and father, some aunts and uncles, and our brother Joseph, who was stillborn in December 1960.

He also did some preliminary genealogy research on his family tree back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the results of which he turned over to me. This spurred me on to include my Mom’s side of the family, and take much of those tree branches back some four and five generations.

Those things mattered to my Dad: family history and memories. As long as he was alive, the people who mattered to him during his life were still alive. They were alive in him, in his photos and stories and memories.

One thing that I’ve found over these last few months without him, going through “firsts” such as my first birthday and Christmas without him, was that his feelings on the importance of preserving family memories really are important.

You see, what I’ve (strangely to me) found is that I “feel” him now more than I ever did when he was alive. Maybe that was because I took for granted during his life that he was out there. That he would be back up to Philly for a visit in a few months. That I could pick up the phone and talk to him any time.

Our last picture together in June 2016

Now, he seems to be constantly with me. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. Very few hours pass in a day that I don’t hear his voice in my head. It’s not a bad thing, or a sad thing, or a somber thing in any way. It’s a good feeling.

So what I’ve found is that, while I absolutely miss him terribly, he is still with me. He is always going to be with me. Death didn’t take him away. I see and hear him constantly.

And one more thing. He was a man of faith, something that was always with him, but that developed more fully later in life.

That aspect of faith, a knowledge of the truth of Jesus Christ and of God’s love, is another lesson learned by watching my hero. It may be the most important lesson that he ever passed along, in fact.

And because of this one, I know for a fact that one day I will again see my Dad. When I get to wrap my arms around him for one of his hugs again, what a great day that will be.

While 2017 is always going to be remembered by me as the year that my Dad died, I won’t really ever have to think of it as the year that I “lost” him.

Matthew J. Veasey Jr is not lost. He’s not even gone. He’s right here with me now. I would venture to guess that the same goes for any of you reading this now who knew him. It will remain that way for at least as long as any of us remain alive.

Happy Thanksgiving to you, happy birthday to me

On this coming Tuesday, I will turn 46 years old. Two days later is Thanksgiving. It is the closest that my birthday ever comes to actually falling on the holiday, which it will never exactly meet.

Thanksgiving is celebrated always on the fourth Thursday in November, and if you do the calculating you will see that the latest that my birth date, the 20th, can fall is on the third Thursday.

Still, with this being my own closest confluence of the two days, which some years is almost a full week apart, it gives me a good opportunity to reflect on what exactly it is for which I am personally thankful.

Sliding towards the back end of my 40’s, with apparently no reversal of this aging process in sight, reflection is something that I find increasingly vital in my life, and here is a sharing of those things.

I am thankful for having a good career that is affording me opportunities and experiences that I could have never imagined as a young man. To tell of all the many exciting, demanding, rewarding experiences that one gathers over almost two decades as a police officer on the streets of a big city would take up volumes. Suffice it to say that they have all contributed to my personal growth and knowledge. For this career I am very thankful.

I am thankful for the educational opportunities that I have been afforded, and for the intelligence and perseverance that it takes to pursue a college degree while also working full-time at a demanding job.

Special thanks in this area goes out to Philly police boss Keith Sadler, who encouraged me to get going on my degree pursuit over four years ago now. It goes out to the Philly PD, as well as to the Community College of Philadelphia and St. Joseph’s University, for their relationship in helping cops travel this journey. For these educational opportunities, I am very thankful.

I am thankful for my home, which feels so much now like a glove-fit, but which I could not have envisioned just a little over a decade ago. For a kid from a row house neighborhood who never had two nickels to scrape together during his 20’s, to think that I could one day own a single home in a great neighborhood with a nice front and rear yard, a garage, and a swimming pool is amazing. It isn’t a mansion, and it needs some work, but it is ours, and it is home. For this wonderful place to live out day to day life, I am very thankful.

I am thankful for the people in my life, because relationships are what this life is all about. These people include friends, co-workers, my fellow students, regular acquaintances, and most of all my family. Without the rich texture and color of their own many and varied personalities and experiences, my own life would be so much less enjoyable. For the people that bring my life to life, I am very thankful.

As a police officer, then a detective, and now as a police supervisor, I have had to deal with other cops and investigators under some tremendously pressurized situations all across the city. From South Street to Red Lion Road, from Kensington Avenue to Cobbs Creek Parkway, I have first-hand, on the street experience watching some of the most dedicated men and women in the world handle fights and fires, auto accidents and homicides.

Everything that you can think of that comes under the umbrella of the good, the bad, and the ugly, the men and women of the Philadelphia Police Department experience almost daily. For the opportunity to work alongside them, I am very thankful.

As a student, I have had the opportunity to sit in the classroom with some of the most dedicated individuals within those same police ranks. These are officers who do that same difficult job every day and night, and yet still find the time, energy, effort, perseverance, and intellect that it takes to also pursue a college education.

Like me, they do it in the hopes that they will one day improve their working situation, be it in their current career on in another chapter of their lives. And the instructors and professors who teach us are also doing double-duty. For these people, I am very thankful.

None of us go through life without making friends. Some are closer than others, some come and go in our lives, but once you make a real friend, they are usually a friend for life. I had the good fortune as a young man to play ball with some great guys on the Brewers softball team.

The Brewers won a half-dozen championships on the ball fields of Philly between 1983 and 1996, We cemented our friendship over post-game food and drinks, post-work get-togethers, and family gatherings. Now over two decades later, I can say these were the best friends of my adult life.

I ran into Dee Sweeney, one of the Brewer wives, in a local store a few years back. She commented on how during the conversation she could still feel our friendship, even though we hadn’t seen one another for a few years at that point.

Dee and her husband, George Sweeney, had a few young kids at the time, and so my response to her was that “we could not talk to one another for over a year, and you could call me up at two in the morning to come watch your kids and I would”. Those are good friends, and for them I am very, very thankful.

For anyone who has their life in order, there are no more important people than family. These are the folks for whom I am most thankful. My extended family has been great throughout my life. The richness of the experiences that my aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents have brought to me has been unforgettable.

Whether at a shore house, or in a family gathering, or on a bus trip to a ballgame, even at a funeral, these people have brought fullness to my life, and an appreciation of the extension of our lives out into the world that a good family brings. For them I have always been and will always be thankful.

There are none more important than immediate family. My wonderful wife, my incredible daughters, my inspiring parents, my brother and his own family.

My parents had many challenges in their lives, especially my mom who died far too young after far too much suffering. My dad’s life as a Marine, a dedicated law enforcement professional, and the enjoyment that he has found in retirement.

These people were my foundation, and for the example they set through all their own challenges, the opportunities they afforded me as a kid, and the love they showed me throughout their lives, I am eternally thankful.

My brother, Mike Veasey, is “the Man”. If he weren’t, I would be, but he is around so the title is his. If you don’t get that idea, don’t worry, it’s a bit of an inside thing. As a kid, he and I had the typical big brother, little brother, combative relationship. As adults, we bonded into a closeness that I will forever cherish.

Mike was my partner for a few years when we were both young cops trying to survive on the streets. While I probably would have survived without him, it wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun. His family, my dedicated sister-in-law Diana and my wonderful Goddaughter Meghan, may as well be my own. For this family, I can never express my full thanks.

Then there are my kids, Christine, Kelly, and Melissa, and granddaughter Elysia Bellina. My kids have brought me so much joy and pain over the past three decades that I simply would not be the same person today without them. Only other involved parents can understand how the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the smiles and tears, the triumphs and tragedies of another person’s life can affect you so much.

To say that my three daughters have been a challenge would be appropriate. But to say that they are my pride and joy would be an understatement. That joy extends to my granddaughter, who puts a smile on my face and in my heart every time I see her. I can only pray that they all have children of their own one day, and pass along these family ties, bonds, history.

My wife, Debbie Veasey, is quite simply the best human being that I have ever personally known in my entire life. The gift that I was given when this woman came to my life, which was at an extremely difficult time in my life, is one that I did not deserve, but for which I am forever thankful. We have traveled together, grown together, and shared almost everything, almost every day.

Deb has stood by me through all of life’s difficult challenges, a couple of which were my own creation. She has loved me during every season of my life. She is truly my partner, my best friend, my love. For her, there is no level of thanks to truly express how I feel.

None of these people and experiences would have been possible without the blessing of a loving God. Saying that I am thankful to and for God Himself just doesn’t seem to say enough. The experience of His love in my life, the way that He has listened to my prayers.

The gift of his own Son, Jesus Christ, to my world. His death for my sins. His teaching that has begun to penetrate my consciousness more fully over the last year. I only pray that my own children will know this kind of personal relationship, this ultimate relationship, as they continue on the journey of their own lives. In fact, I pray for nothing more often and deeply. For the positive answer to that prayer, Lord, I would more thankful than anything.

Give thanks, all of you, for those people and things that are most important in your life. Give thanks for the joy they have brought you. Give thanks for the challenges they have brought you. Give thanks for the ability to enjoy the people and events, and the ability to battle and overcome the challenges.

And when you do give thanks, remember where that thanks should be directed. The full and final thanks goes to your God.

Happy birthday to me, and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.