The past year has been rougher than most, the police officer said in a soft voice, his eyes scanning a room of camouflage pants and nodding heads.
But there's "a light at the end of the tunnel," he said, gesturing to the older man standing nearby.
"We stood strong. We fought the good fight," Springettsbury Township Police Lt. Daniel Stump said to a room of fellow officers. "I just couldn't be prouder."
Stump hadn't expected to deliver a speech Friday. Sunglasses sat atop his head as he spoke.
Brief but genuine, Stump's words had struck a chord with Thomas Hyers, the older man who'd planned the surprise awards ceremony for Stump and two other officers.
"That was a powerful statement," Hyers said. "That meant a lot to me."
It was Hyers' fifth day as the department's new police chief. He'd learned on Tuesday that two Springettsbury officers - Sgt. Tony Beam and Det. Scott Altland - were about to mark their 20-year anniversary of service to the department.
Within three days, Hyers ordered a cake, had plaques made and invited the trio's wives to the surprise event.
It's the kind of thing that had fallen off the priority list for Springettsbury police some time ago, Hyers said. As the department's new chief, he said he wants to bring it back.
"This is the way we're going to do things," Hyers said. "We're going to acknowledge ourselves."
Hyers also awarded a plaque to the officers' wives. When a police officer marks 20 years of service, it's never without sacrifice shared by the whole family, Hyers said. Sometimes that's taken for granted, he added.
And then there was Stump, whose promotion to lieutenant earlier this year earned him a plaque. Until Monday, he'd headed the department after a year of frequent turnover in management.
Stump had been a finalist in the township's search for a new chief. Hyers, a 25-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, got the job.
On Friday, the two men shook hands.
"I'm proud. I'm honored," Stump said. "And I don't know what else to say."
- Reach Erin James at 505-5439 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ydcity.