Fallen N.C. law enforcement remembered at Law Enforcement Memorial Day
A solemn service to remember North Carolina’s law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty was held at the gazebo in the Franklin Town Square last Friday. Local officials and representatives of the various branches of law enforcement in the county attended the memorial event hosted by Lodge No. 81 of the Fraternal Order of Police of Macon and Jackson Counties.
“Let us never forget but always remember, not only on this day, but every day, our fallen brothers and sisters who have paid the ultimate price,” entreated Al Caiata, retired deputy chief of Cape Coral Florida Police Department and guest speaker at the event.
Caiata, who moved to Franklin with his wife Kathleen in 2000, spoke of his 30 years of experience in law enforcement which began as a young man in a small residential community on Lake Erie. From the beginning, when faced with the loss of comrades on the force, Caiata found himself asking why.
“Why is it that when an emergency situation arises and most people are running away from it, law enforcement officers and first responders are running towards it?” Caiata asked. “Why you ask? It's just our make-up. All of us have been called to this profession. Helping people is what we do, and we do it proudly. Sometimes we must pay the ultimate price for our calling,” Caiata said.
Caiata noted that a small gathering on May 15, 1982, marked the first year that Law Enforcement Memorial Day was observed. In 1991, the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C., was dedicated by President George H. Bush. Today, the memorial wall carries the names of over 16,000 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
In 2010, 180 law enforcement officers nationwide gave their lives while on duty. “They paid the ultimate price for serving their country, state, county, city or township,” said Caiata, noting that four of those officers were from North Carolina. This year, 63 officers have already lost their lives, including one North Carolina state trooper.
Before giving the invocation for the ceremony, Macon County Sheriff's Office Chaplain, Deputy Lynn Dulakis read a quote from William J. Bennett which gave a similar answer about the selfless service of those who put their lives on the line to protect the nation's citizens.
“Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age,” quoted Dulakis. “It does so because honor is finally about defending those noble and worthy things, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution or as always, even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for?”
Before reciting “A Police Officer's Prayer,” F.O.P. Lodge No. 81 secretary and master of ceremonies for the memorial, John O'Connor, reminded those gathered that this year will mark the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks of 2001. A retired Port Authority of New York police officer, O'Connor noted that 2996 lives were lost in the attacks, including 15 emergency medical personnel, 343 New York City firefighters, 23 New York City police officers, 37 Port Authority police officers and one K9 unit member, a dog named “Sirius.”
O'Connor asked that a special prayer be said for the men and women of the armed services, “and a real, real special prayer for Seal Team Six for a job well done.”
During the Roll Call of Fallen Officers, F.O.P. Lodge No. 81 president, Sergeant John Hook, read off the names of North Carolina law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty over the past year. The names of other officers from Western North Carolina who had given their lives in recent years were also honored. A bell was tolled after the reading of each name.
The Placing of the Wreath ceremony, conducted by officers of the Franklin Police Department, was followed by a 21-gun salute from members of the American Legion Post 108 and the Honor Guard Unit of VFW Post 7339 with Commander Neil Riendeau.
Fallen North Carolina Police Officers 2010-2011
Jan. 9, 2010
Officer Edward Pounds
Neuse Correctional Institution
July 28, 2010
Inspector Timothy Charles Barnes
North Carolina DMV
Dec. 25, 2010
Deputy John Willis
Green County Sheriff's Office
Feb. 25, 2011
Trooper Kyle Patrick Barber
North Carolina Highway Patrol
Special Remembrance of Western North Carolina Officers
Oct. 3, 2001
Master Trooper Calvin E. Taylor
May 31, 2003
Senior Trooper Anthony G. Cogdill
June 17, 2008
Trooper David Shawn Blanton, Jr.