His family is burying Firefighter Leonard Riggins today. This is what I said at his funeral:
On behalf of all the people of the City of St. Louis, I would like extend our condolences to the family of Firefighter Leonard Riggins, to his fellow firefighters, and to his friends for their loss.
He was taken from the City’s proud fire service abruptly and senselessly. He will be missed.
Every such loss leaves behind a message, a lesson that helps us understand the loss. Having spoken to his family, his friends, his fellow firefighters, and his chief, I know what lesson Leonard Riggins would want us to take.
This good man, this good firefighter, this good neighbor would want us to remember that he stopped his car at an accident in the dark to see if he could help someone he did not even know. And he would want us to do the same.
Leonard Riggins was a man of kindness, who extended the definition of “friend” and the boundaries of “neighborhood” as far as he could see. That he was shot for his kindness would have been for him just an ironic, tragic bit of punctuation to a life of grace and service.
I am not as kind a man as Leonard Riggins. I am angry that his good act was so punished. I do not mourn his murderer.
But, to honor Leonard Riggins’ bright memory, I will try to remember his hard-purchased final lesson: A good neighbor always stops in the dark to help.
I urge you all to do the same.