We have a special presentation to end our ceremony. As many of you now know we lost an amazing young man who was a steadfast supporter of all First Responders in this County. Although you may not have known Matthew Frank, I am sure that many of you knew him by his reporting title and website SLOSTRINGER.
It was my honor to have met Matthew and talk to him about his passion to represent First Responders in a media source as he saw them through his eyes. He saw first responders for what they are, selfless public servants, giving up time away from family, putting themselves in dangerous situations so that others were protected and safe. He recognized the sacrifices first responders made on a daily basis and he wanted to capture that and share it with the world. I believe Matthew recognized these traits about first responders because he himself shared many of those same characteristics and values that are innate and become part of the life fabric of these professionals.
Matthew was truly a young man with an “old soul.” An old soul that embodied that passion to serve others above self, this being a philosophy that I believe makes our county and our nation great. Service above self is something that we are challenged with daily in our current political environment, but it is something we have to be steadfast in protecting and remembering to embrace in our daily lives. Matthew had an amazing work ethic and desire to present to others what he saw through his own eyes and soul. And boy did he have a gift for sharing. His website was by far the most popular and undoubtedly the number one go to location to find the most current and unbiased approach of what was going on in our county. I know for a fact, that our own dispatchers and deputies used his site frequently to get the most up to date information, including me. Often times, as first responders we are tied up in the immediate moment with our focus on the rapidly evolving incidents. Matthew would willingly share his video on numerous occasions which became some of the most valuable video depicting a broader view of the incident and first responder’s involvement as it unfolded in real time. Video we would have never had if it was not for Matthew’s dedication, desire, and passion. Matthew was able to present newsworthy items not only in a timely way but in a way that showed compassion for those who were in need and he often captured those delicate moments of human kindness and caring that happen every day in our profession. Matthew’s work and devotion touched many lives, both those of first responders and those of citizens alike.
To honor Matthew, members of our agency were able to save and refurbish Matt’s fire helmet which they presented to his father Stephen and mother Jaqueline to honor Matthew’s memory. Our Custody staff also painted an entire wall of our sally port at the Court House. The wall was painted black with a blue stripe which is a symbol honoring those law enforcement first responders who have passed in the line of duty. They did this in honor of Matthew’s memory.
Today we are here once again to honor Matthew’s memory. Many of you may not realize that Matthew was in the process of applying for and being accepted as a member of our Sheriff’s Office Aero Squadron. Matthew was following in the footsteps of his father Stephen who has been a valued member of our Aero Squadron for more than 40 years.
In honor of Matthew and as a tribute to the amazing young man with an old soul he embodied, the Sheriff has approved Matthew as an Honorary Member of our esteemed Aero Squadron. We are presenting Jaqueline this shadow box which was made for Matthew. His father Stephen received a similar shadow box with an Aero Squadron badge honoring him for 40 years of service. This box was hand made by me from old wood to honor Matthew’s old soul approach to life.