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A small ceremony Friday at the Shelbyville Police Station to present an American flag to the governor turned out to be a much more emotional event than anyone had planned.
Before the ceremony in which Myrranda Gentry, the wife of a Shelbyville police officer stationed in Iraq, presented Gov. Steve Beshear with a flag that had been flown over Saddam Hussein’s former palace on Sept. 11, everyone got an unexpected – and emotional – treat.
Shelbyville PD Officer Bruce Gentry was able to be there, too, even though he is still in Iraq.
Gentry, who is a warrant officer in the National Guard, and who had sent several flags to his wife, got to see and speak to everyone through the Internet application Skype, arranged as a surprise by his wife.
Gentry’s face on the computer screen reflected his joy as he talked to his wife and Beshear, while the governor held his 7-weeks-old son, Bryce, whom Gentry himself has not gotten to hold.
Beshear, while cuddling baby Bryce, talked with Gentry before he addressed a roomful of news media, police officers, and Shelby County officials.
He recalled the last time he had spoken with Gentry, on a trip to the Middle East in August, when he had visited with the troops.
“One of the first people I ran into there was Bruce Gentry, and after I had visited with the troops, he came back up to me and said he had a big favor to ask me,” Beshear said. “He said his wife was about to have their baby, and he wished there was some way I could let her know he was thinking about her and the baby and that he loved them.”
Beshear did relay Gentry’s message, and at the ceremony Friday, he was visibly touched at getting to hold the baby while he spoke to Gentry on Skype.
“I’m just so excited about getting to take part in this family’s happiness, and I am so proud of them. Just seeing the next generation coming up that will be able to enjoy the freedoms their parents are fighting to preserve is a special feeling, and it’s a feeling I experienced over there [Iraq], too, their love for their families,” he said, smiling at the baby, who was then napping in the lap of his grandmother, Paula Gentry.
“This is definitely going to be displayed in the governor’s office,” he said, holding up the folded American flag.
Shelbyville Police Chief Bob Schutte also got a flag, and Myrranda Gentry’s eyes glistened with tears as she presented it to him.
“Bruce loves you guys,” she said, her glance taking in Schutte and the other officers in the room. “Every time we talk, he asks about all of you.”
Gentry had also presented a flag to the Shelby County Fiscal Court a few weeks ago.
Before everyone left, Bruce Gentry got to say goodbye to his wife and Beshear, who again was holding the baby.
“I love you,” he said.
“Oh, I was talking to my wife that time, sir,” he said to Beshear.