National Peace Officers Memorial Day was recognized Tuesday, with a special service coordinated by the Waxahachie Police Department at the pocket park near the Ellis County Courthouse.
The park is the site of the Ellis County Memorial to fallen officers and fire fighters.
During the service, Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Charles E. Sullins said serving in law enforcement is a calling - not a job.
“I don’t know what this world would be like without police officers,” Sullins said as he looked around to each officer present. “Can you just imagine what life would be like if we did not have police officers?
“The ones we are honoring today have paid the ultimate sacrifice and I feel so fortunate to have worked side by side with some of them,” Sullins said. “I am sure that these officers would want to tell you — if they could — live your life to the fullest and love your family because you never know what each day holds.”
From a poem entitled, “A Part of America Died,” Sullins read, “The hazards of being a police officer are well known within the law enforcement community and it is to them and all that have and will pay the price for safety that the following is dedicated.”
“Last year, many American law enforcement officers paid with their lives to serve and protect the people of this great nation,” Sullins said. “So to you police officers who every day go out and walk the streets and face the beast; to you correctional officers — men and women — who work in the jails, in the prisons, you’re at the mouth of the beast and we just want to thank you for protecting us.”
From the memorial, Waxaha-chie Police Chief Chuck Edge read the names of the Ellis County-based officers who lost their lives in the line of duty from the year 1880 to present.
As he read each name, a family member or friend of the fallen officer made their presence known by answering, “present.”
Listed on the memorial are Joseph C.R. Bullard (Ennis city marshal), John H. Spalding (Waxahachie city marshal), Thomas D. Conger (Ellis County constable, Pct. 7, Red Oak), Jesse Claude White (deputy sheriff Ellis County), James Benjamin Wicker (Ellis County constable, Pct. 2, Ferris), Travis Raburn Locker (Texas Department of Public Safety, Ellis County trooper), Arthur James Robertson (deputy sheriff, Ellis County), George William Raffield Jr. (Midlothian Police Department), Lt. Jeffrey Lee Springer (Waxahachie Police Department) and Harry Marvin “Marty” Steinfeldt III (Ferris Police Department).
Also recognized were officers from around the state who have lost their lives so far this year: trooper Matthew D. Myrick (Texas Department of Public Safety), trooper Eduardo Chavez (Texas Department of Public Safety), Dale Geddie (Smith County constable, Pct. 4), Lt. James L. Sunderland Sr. (Val Verde County Sheriff’s Office), Rodney J. Johnson (Houston Police Department) and Dwayne N. Freeto (Fort Worth Police Department).
At the conclusion of the reading of the names, there was a moment of silence as the bell of the courthouse rang 16 times in honor of the 16 names read.
Edge said the memorial ceremony was a way for officers to honor those who fought to protect and serve the county and the state.
“This was a chance for all the officers to come together at one time to pay honor for friends and comrades who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Edge said. “We all wear different uniforms but we all have one common goal and that is to protect and serve our community and then go home safely to our families.”
As the Rev. Bruce Zimmerman of Waxahachie Bible Church led everyone in prayer, officers saluted as a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace” to conclude the memorial.
“Although this memorial is new to the city of Waxahachie, everyone worked together to make this work,” said officer Wes Winn, recognizing the Ellis County Bar Association for donated funds toward the bagpiper.
“One thing just kind of led to another and we’re also hoping to have more agencies next year,” he said.
Among the agencies present were Red Oak ISD, Department of Public Safety, DeSoto Police Department, Waxahachie Police Department, Ennis ISD, Glenn Heights Police Department, Ellis County Sheriff’s Office and others.
E-mail Chicarra at email@example.com