Members of the Grover King VFW Post 1115 took time to remember law enforcement officers killed in the line of the duty over the past year and to honor those that still serve May 14 during the annual Peace Officers Memorial Service on May 14.
As he looked around the post for the Saturday morning ceremony, past Grover King VFW commander Donald Trausneck said he saw several different law enforcement agencies represented. There is a special sense of unity, a kindred spirit that ties them all together.
“Every year at this time, law enforcement officers from around the nation gather to salute their friends and colleagues, to stand in solidarity with their loved ones as we remember those that have given what President Abraham Lincoln called ‘the last full measure of devotion,’” Trausneck said.
Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week is a combined observance in the United States that pays tribute to the local, state, and Federal peace officers that have died in the line of duty. Trausneck said the VFW is honored to host local officers in joining the nationwide remembrance.
“By the very nature of their calling, law enforcement officers willingly – and without hesitation – put their lives on the line in service to their fellow citizens,” Trausneck said. “Their courage, training, and dedication help keep us safe – even as they put themselves in harm’s way. Their selfless acts of courage were especially demonstrated time and again during the past year.”
Trausneck said bravery and vigilance are constant traits of those who wear the badge – whether it is stopping criminal acts of violence or walking the halls of our most secure prions or rescuing those caught in a blizzard. They were people of unrelenting courage and dedication – officers like Scott Johnson and Gabe Rich – proud Alaska State Troopers who were killed while carrying out an arrest on a misdemeanor charge.
He said they were officers like Jessica Hollis, a Senior Deputy in Texas who drowned while checking roadways for high water in heavy rain. Or Melvin Santiago, a 23-year-old Jersey City police detective who had volunteered to be placed in the toughest district in the state and was shot during an ambush. Or Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramon, gunned down as they worked on an anti-crime patrol in New York City.
“They knew the dangers of their profession; they recognized the risks that they faced. But they were determined to serve their fellow citizens,” Trausneck said. “It is a courage that is so constant and commonplace, many take it for granted. But that is something we will not do. This we pledge. I also wish to recognize and commend those loved ones, families and friends of our fallen community officers, those they left behind. They, too, had to make a special sacrifice.”
Prior to going outside for a ceremony to lower the flag to half-staff, Trausneck asked the group to pause for a moment of silence. He then asked if any of the attending officers would like to remember a fallen officer.
Junior Alderman of the Hillsville Police Department asked to remember Officer Scott Allen Hylton, a former Hillsville officer killed in the line of duty with the Christiansburg Police Department. Sheriff J.B. Gardner asked for remembrance of former Carroll County Sheriff Lewis Webb, who was killed in the Hillsville Courthouse Tragedy of 1912. He also asked for remembrance for Deputy Emery Mabry, who was killed while conducting a traffic stop in 1974 near Laurel Fork.
Incoming VFW Post 1115 Commander Marty Rivera gave one final salute to all law enforcement officers.
“We appreciate everything you guys do for us,” Rivera said. “You all put your life on the line for us every day. We know what it is to serve and we appreciate everything you do to serve.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN