January 6, 2018, Taylor, Michigan - The Honor The Blue Line Memorial Hockey Event drew a large and passionate crowd at the Taylor Sportsplex, paying an emotional tribute to Deputy Eric Overall, Oakland County. The annual memorial hockey game was played between the Detroit Police Department and The Michigan Warriors. Chris Hervey, Chief of Programs Operations for the Michigan Warriors was present, representing the great work of the local organization.
The Michigan Warrior hockey organization is a non-profit hockey program for Disabled Veterans. The benefit skate honored Oakland County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Overall, our local officer struck down in the line of duty just before Thanksgiving. I attended as a sponsor, representing Thin Blue Line USA and the incredible police supporters from across the state. We are passionate sponsors of law enforcement non-profits and make it our mission to support every family affected by the loss of a fallen officer. At our table we offered the hockey guests our American Flag bracelets, pins and stickers to directly benefit the Overall family. So many of the guests that stopped by our table were at the game to support the Overall family. A special tribute was made with hundreds of custom bracelets in Eric’s honor, and they were presented them to his wife, Sonja Overall, later that evening.
It was such an honor to meet Sonja at the hockey event that evening. I was in awe of her strength and was moved by the stories she so kindly shared with me. Stories about her and Eric and their life together. One in particular stood out. It was about their Thin Blue Line Flag, the amazing people it represents, and that they proudly hung it in their yard. She remembered shortly after Eric’s tragic death, it was a very windy evening right before she went to bed. While she was sleeping the forceful winds pulled the beloved flag off the flagpole and whisked it out of her yard. The next day she noticed the flag was missing and was determined to find it. Thankfully Sonja found her flag in a neighbors back yard waiting to be taken home. It was a moving day for Sonja, as she raised her flag back on the pole. She said the sun was shining, giving everything that magical sparkle, she felt Eric would be happy their flag was home again.
I felt that by sharing her stories it gave Sonja comfort, she was able to talk about Eric and most importantly, “remember” who he was and what he brought into her life. I could tell her stories brought her great joy while she was sharing them with me. Even though they evoked some tears and I felt immense sadness, they also filled my heart with joy. Sonja helped me to understand that she was honoring and preserving Eric’s memory, both as a stalwart, selfless officer and as a loving husband and father. These memories she holds close to her heart bring new life to the man so special to her, and so important to this community.