Ten years ago this morning, I was a college junior walking to my favorite English class when my friend Matt (on his way to becoming a famous musician in The So So Glos) stopped me. "Hey Ben, did you hear about Damageplan?"
"Yeah, Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul's new band. What about them?"
"Someone killed Dimebag and three other people last night."
This show is terrible, and the tracking is off, but please sit through it for glimpses Officer Niggemeyer's courage.
I don't remember my reaction, or what book my classmates talked about while I stressed out. I spent the rest of the day between the library, refreshing Google News by the minute in hopes of some sort of insight into what had happened, and my room, where my high school metalhead friends, tightly bonded in Virginia but now split up by college all over the country, had already left me somber messages by the time I arrived. "Cemetery Gates" was stuck in my head for weeks, maybe even months.
I've written much about Dimebag since then, and as Pantera means more to me each year I'm sure there's more to come. But today I want to honor Officer James Niggemeyer. This has not been a good year for police publicity, and I hate that it takes a case like Niggemeyer's to remind me what a noble, risky, heroic and thankless job a cop has.
The Columbus Dispatch released a heartbreaking update on Niggemeyer yesterday, in which he opens up about the counseling he's been going through for post-traumatic stress disorder. I hope you'll read it in its entirety.