A somber family reunion

Justin
Justin Crann
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25 years after father's funeral, MJPS Cst. Chris Flanagan marched in Moncton

Moose Jaw Police Constable Chris Flanagan was overwhelmed when he attended the funeral of three RCMP officers at the Moncton Coliseum in New Brunswick.

It was the first time he attended a police funeral since his father’s, 25 years prior.

“My dad was an RCMP member and he died in the line of duty in 1989,” Flanagan told the Times-Herald on Thursday. “I try to get to the memorial service every September in Regina and take part there … (but) this is the first police funeral I have been to since my dad.”

Flanagan was four years old when his father, Cpl. Derek John Flanagan, was killed while on special duty in Thailand.

“Though the grieving process is over, when things like this happen, it brings those bad memories back,” he said. “But as an officer, you put that badge and uniform on every morning and you never know what to expect.”

When the call went out among the Moose Jaw Police Service to select who would attend the service, Sgt. Cliff Froehlich told the Times-Herald, many officers weren’t able to go.

Flanagan volunteered.

“It’s something you don’t have to be told to go to, you want to go to it,” Flanagan said. “The police world is a brother- and sisterhood. When a member, let alone three, dies in the line of duty, you want to pay your respects.

“I was fortunate, and quite honoured, to go there as a representative for Moose Jaw and I went there to mourn the three police officers who lost their lives,” he added. “That’s the thing with the police family. At times like this, everybody comes together.”

The experience was difficult, and left Flanagan at “a loss for words.”

The emotion really hit him during the officers’s parade, he said.

“It brings a tear to your eye when you’re marching and the people of Moncton are cheering for you, clapping for you, saying ‘God bless you.’ It just puts it into perspective,” explained Flanagan.

“Here I am marching in a parade for three fallen officers when 25 years ago, officers were doing the same for my father,” he added. “I was honoured and privileged and happy I got to experience it, but sad I had to experience it, too.”

After the parade and dinner, when Flanagan was returning to his hotel room, he paused to look at a rainbow that had formed in the sky.

“It had been raining all day, but it had stopped raining and I noticed this big rainbow in the sky,” he said. “This older gentleman from Moncton stopped — I didn’t even know him. He looked at me, and at the rainbow, and said to me, ‘I think that’s God’s way of looking after Moncton and telling all of us that good days are to come.’”

It was a small gesture from the man, but Flanagan described it as “neat,” and said it put the entire day into a new light.

“The city came together … and I was proud to be there,” he said. “I hope that we don’t have to attend something like that ever again. But bad things do happen in life, and in the job we work things like that can happen.

“I’m mentally, physically and emotionally drained right now, but I would go again in a heartbeat,” Flanagan added.

When he was asked if he thought his father would be proud, he responded with certainty.

“He’d be proud. Talking to my mom, she was proud, too. My brother was proud,” said Flanagan. “And I’m proud … I just feel for the families and I feel for the city of Moncton. But that whole province and this whole country should feel proud.”

You can follow Justin Crann on Twitter.

Organizations: Times-Herald, RCMP, Moose Jaw Police Service

Geographic location: Moncton, Regina, Thailand Moose Jaw

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  • JUDY ASHTON
    June 14, 2014 - 11:45

    I knew your dad. He was a wonderful person. Just wanted to say thank you to you too. God bless..Ashton : Nova Scotia