The term "hate crime" seems to be the big buzz word these days, especially in light of recent events. But speaking from personal experience I can honestly say that ANY crime against another human being should be viewed the same way.

Twenty-two years ago to this very day a loving husband, father, and grandfather was shot dead during a payroll robbery at his place of work.

Julius "Jay" Henry Baumgardt who worked at the time as an armored car driver was also my father-in-law and up until his death was very much a second father to me.

The circumstances of Jay's murder were purely the result of greed by a small group of cowardly assailants who were driven by nothing less than a love for money which the Bible affirms as the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10).

Nonetheless, Jay did not resist these evil men. Instead, he was forced to lay face down on the ground as his partner was handcuffed. For reasons still not fully known, Jay was shot in the back of the head while his partner lived. Jay died instantly.

In the wake of Jay's death there were no angry protesters rioting in the streets, neither were there any political or religious leaders standing before the media on his behalf demanding justice for this blue collar American patriot, his grieving widow, nor for their three dejected children who in an instant had become among the fatherless.

But Jay's family didn't need those things nor did they really need anyone in those capacities, for that matter, in order to see justice be served. As I would observe over time from the vantage point as their son-in-law I saw that they had something much, much more.

Chris, Jay's wife, and childhood sweetheart, was a feisty force to be reckoned with by nature prior to her husband's murder but after she had time to grieve and had collected herself she then became unstoppable in her relentless pursuit of justice for her beloved Jay.

You see my mother-in-law, who at the time of Jay's murder once sat among the grieving in a local support group she had attended, had later been elevated to a position where she was not only able to champion for her own husband's cause but soon found herself fighting for and comforting those as their group's Chapter Leader.

And whereas some today might use their influence to tear others down, my mother-in-law chose instead to help build up families of murdered victims and restore hope by erecting a monument in honor of their deceased loved ones.

In addition, "Ma" led countless vigils year after year in honor of her group's beloved family members where I myself was honored to have been given the wonderful opportunity of speaking and sharing some of my experiences with Jay and what it was like being a part of this family as seen through the lens of a son-in-law during one of their most trying times.

I will never forget though Mom's tireless efforts in seeking justice for her man and the relief she had felt prior to her own passing when the ringleader of Jay's brutal murder was retried in court and finally sentenced.

Justice was finally served!

Sadly, however, this family's celebration would soon be short lived as Ma's poor heart, which had been burdened for over two decades, finally gave way.

As I reflect today on the anniversary of Jay's murder, it saddens me to know that most of Jay's grandchildren will never get the chance to meet this warm and caring man whom many admired and who also had a sense of humor all of his own.

Nevertheless, I am glad to say that both Jay and Chris's legacy still lives on today through their beloved children: eldest daughterJeannie is a retired New York City police officer, their second daughter Tina who happens to be my beautiful wife is a Chef and school teacher, while their youngest son Jay is a U.S. Airforce veteran and entrepreneur. And let's not forget to mention their six precious grandchildren also.

Though evil may have taken its toll on this family it is love that will continue to bind us together. A love like Jay and Chris's, though rare these days, is a constant reminder to me that love truly never fails.

"And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

To read more about the man, the myth, and the legend that is my father-in-law please visit the National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children website by clicking on the following link: http://www.pomc.com/mw_stories_1-19/julius_baumgardt.html

Thanks for listening!

Run to win,
Den