By Pat Young, Fort Stewart Public AffairsMay 21, 2009
FORT STEWART, Ga. - The sorrowful wails of Scottish bagpipes playing "Amazing Grace," the rhythmic cadence of a 21-gun salute, and a heart-wrenching rendition of "Taps" were heard by attendees at the Law Enforcement Memorial held at Marne Gardens on Fort Stewart, May 15.
Gathering to honor their fallen, law enforcement officers were joined in brotherhood with representatives from the installation, Richmond Hill, Hinesville, Ludowici, McIntosh County, and surrounding areas.
On May 10, President Barack Obama released a proclamation that flags be posted at half-mast in recognition of police officers sacrifices. He named May 10-May 16, 2009 as Police Week and May 15 each year as Peace Officers Memorial Day. The proclamation was read to attendees at the installation's Law Enforcement Memorial ceremony.
"Every year, many give their lives in the performance of their duties. Their contributions live on in the communities they strengthened, and their service will never be forgotten. This week, as we recognize their commitment to duty, we renew our pledge to support their Families and colleagues," President Obama said in the proclamation.
Third Infantry Division Commander, Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo shared his thoughts regarding the day's events and introduced the guest speaker, United States Marshal Tom Roberts.
Major General Cucolo said one of the 3rd ID objectives in the upcoming deployment to Iraq is to help establish police supremacy in urban and rural areas there - not to become police but to help the Iraqi police there to become servants of the people. He said peace officers here in the United States serve as an excellent example through their selfless service.
"...frankly we have so much in common - us (Soldiers) and first responders," Maj. Gen. Cucolo said. "We both defend the Constitution, often placing ourselves in harm's way and frequently making the ultimate sacrifice."
Roberts, whose career started as a military policeman in 1959, understands the similarity in service shared by Soldiers and Law Enforcement Officers. In his career he served as a patrolman, drill sergeant, law enforcement station commander, law enforcement company commander, and a training battalion commander and served two tours in the Republic of Vietnam. Amongst his other duties, he was also the Provost Marshal/Director for Law Enforcement and Security for the U.S. Army Medical Command.
Roberts thanked both Soldiers and peace officers for their dedication in defending the constitution and service to the nation. Roberts said the first officer, Deputy Sheriff Isaac Smith, to make the ultimate sacrifice was shortly after America became a nation, when he was shot and killed in New York. He noted that since then, more than 18,000 officers have died while performing their duties, including 679 in the State of Georgia. He said the officers served in a myriad of duties, from Rangers (Conservation Law Officers) to Federal Marshals.
"They understood that personal and moral courage was required to face fear, danger or adversity in protecting their trust," Roberts said.
In memory of fallen officers, Soldiers from Troop B, 6th Battalion, 8th Calvary Regiment performed a 21-gun salute, the 3rd ID Band played Taps, and Micheal Altman, a local nurse with Hospice, dressed in traditional Scottish attire played "Amazing Grace" with the bag pipes.
As people left, they thanked the officers for their service and passed by a table left in memory of fallen officers that contained the Soldiers beret, a troopers hat, an American Flag, cuffs of restraint, a lone red rose, on a field of blue, with a thin blue line - a line that symbolizes those that stand in daily vigilance to protect the nation.