Jim Finn: dad, leader, true hero

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 22, 2005

It’s impossible to shed a good light on war in Iraq.

Regardless of whether you support the war in Iraq or spend your Saturday’s protesting it on a street corner, we can all admit that the raging battle in the Middle East has affected all of us.

Every day, we hear of a suicide bomb or roadside attack that has killed American soldiers, Iraqi policemen and civilians.

Every day, residents throughout Shelby County wonder whether they will see husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, daughters or sons again.

It’s obvious that the “battle front” came home a long time ago.

With all the pain and agony that is taking place in the Middle East and the daily news reports showing the grief-stricken faces of family members mourning the loss of their loved ones, it’s unimaginable that any person would want to answer the worn out call by our military to go to Iraq.

Unimaginable, but as I learned last week, not impossible.

Calera Police Chief Jim Finn will answer that call to go to the war-torn country next month, as he heads to Iraq to train police officers.

Few people, including myself at first, could grasp Finn’s reasoning for ignoring the violence on the news and American death reports.

A loving father of three and a successful law enforcement officer for more than two decades, his decision to go left many scratching their heads.

But after talking to Finn about his decision, my eyes were opened to the deep love he has for his nation and the people who live within it.

He doesn’t consider his actions reckless as others around him do, but instead wonders why he shouldn’t go.

His story is one of heartfelt pain every time he hears another report of American soldiers dying in the Middle East.

He loses sleep at night knowing that people he has never met are dying thousands of miles away to preserve his freedom.

He has the training, the skills and the know-how to accomplish the job for which he has been called. He understands why people would question, worry and wonder about him, and it is those same people that he is willingly to lay down everything to defend.

I felt privileged to listen to Jim Finn talk about his upcoming journey to Iraq.

I asked him if he was fearful of the danger and he simply mentioned the fact the American law enforcement officers die every day keeping the peace here in America.

He isn’t scared of what might happen to him. Instead, he is scared of what might happen if he doesn’t go.

Stories of American heroes come from every county in the U.S., and each of them deserves the utmost respect.

Many men and women have sacrificed their time, money, family, jobs and even their own lives to protect our nation.

Whether they’re the American foot soldier in Iraq or the chief of a small-town police department in Shelby County, each deserves our gratitude.

Jim Finn will leave Calera and Shelby County around July 12 to begin training for his one-year mission. Before that time, I feel it’s the least we could do honor him for his willingness to sacrifice so much for us.

Mr. Finn will likely try to convince people that he is not deserving of any recognition, that he is no different from the others who have gone before him.

But he is a perfect representative of the American heroes who serve to protect peace all over the world.

My hope would be that as Mr. Finn takes his place protecting our wall of freedom, he leaves here with the knowledge that we are supporting him always in our thoughts and prayers.

Brandon Gresham serves as staff writer at the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at mailto:brandon.gresham@shelbycountyreporter.com