Those who put their lives and safety on the line day-after-day year-after-year deserve our highest praise and deepest gratitude. The Kelso, Washington Police department bid farewell to one of its longest-serving officers this month.

Officer Dave Shelton spent 39 years on the force; the retiring officer broke down as he took to his dispatch earlier this month for one final sign-off.

He thanked everyone for: “helping me to safely and successfully reach the finish line.

“I appreciate all the hard work and all the support.”

Shelton knew he’d become emotional during this last sign-off: “That’s me,” he said. “People know that I’m that way.”

Shelton’s wife, Barb, agrees. The two have been married for 42 years: “He can cry easily at things that are sweetly touching, but he’s also very tough and strong,” she said.

America has taken to social media to thank Shelton for his years of dedication to serving others. Shelton’s raw emotions are touching hearts everywhere.

The flood of emotions isn’t over as the retired officer reflects on his lengthy career: “To me, it’s the end of an era,” he told Inside Edition as he once again fought back the tears. “For 39  years you’ve gone out there to help people and all of the sudden that’s coming to an end.”

Thank you, Officer Shelton, for your years of consistent service. Enjoy your retirement! You’ve earned it.