PAA Joins Community to Mourn Fallen Hero
Portland Adventist Academy (PAA) staff and students joined the greater Portland community to mourn a local hero. “It was a sobering sight,” says Linda Neel, PAA teacher. “Flashing lights for as far as you could see, and the procession lasted for at least 30 minutes. There was sadness for the family and pride in seeing the Portland community come together in such an amazing way.”
The memorial procession, including more than 700 vehicles and hundreds of police officers from Oregon, Idaho and Washington, honored Oregon City Police Reserve Officer Robert Libke, a husband, father and friend shot and killed in the line of duty while performing a heroic act.
While traveling 20 miles from Oregon City to the memorial site in Portland, the procession passed PAA. The students and teachers stretched a bright yellow banner across the overpass so Libke’s mourners could see. It read, “Portland Adventist Academy Thanks Officer Libke for His Services.”
“Many of the officers waved, honked, sounded their sirens and took pictures as they drove by,” says Neel. “The kids seemed impressed by the magnitude of the procession and sobered by the moment. I know that I felt a lot of emotion.”
PAA alumnus Alan Kaiser, reserve officer and a member of one the first-responding SWAT teams, was riding in the procession with his wife and teammate. “We had been silent with tears running down our faces,” says Kaiser. “But when I saw you guys, I just had to break the silence and tell my teammate that was my school. I was so proud of my PAA family. The whole show of support by thousands of people was absolutely awesome.”
As local television journalists reported the event live, thousands of Portlanders living or working near the procession route made their way to overpasses or roadsides to wave flags, salute and simply watch in reverence for the servants who keep their communities safe.
“Tears come to my eyes any time I dwell on the possibility of my family losing me,” explains Kaiser. “But just as strong is my belief that I'm where I'm supposed to be. God gave me strong desires to fill these roles and then brought me to this place by opening many doors and giving me many blessings. I know in my heart it's where I'm supposed to be.”
“As teachers, we need to find ways to show our students the importance of participating in community events,” concludes Neel. “But even more important is to give them opportunities to show compassion and appreciation for others. Often times the most important life lessons happen outside of the classroom. Certainly, this was something none of us will ever forget.”