Remembering the fallen

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 15, 2003

Peace officers around the United States gathered in solemn tribute Thursday to honor those stricken down in the line of service. Peace officers in Covington County also gathered on the Square in Andalusia to remember as well.

Although the service was brief, it did not lack in impact or importance.

"We have been fortunate," said Andalusia Chief of Police Wilbur Williams, to the crowd. "We have gone another year without a fatality. There were 148 officers nationally who died in service last year, and we remember their service and dedication."

Covington County Sheriff Anthony Clark also addressed the crowd, speaking on the dedication and ethics peace officers have and follow.

"Law enforcement serves the community," Clark said. "The officers are professional, follow a strict code of ethics and help keep us safe."

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson wished to express his gratitude to the officers of Covington County.

"On behalf of the citizens of Andalusia, and all of Covington County, I want to express our sincere thanks to the men and women who serve and protect our communities everyday. This is a noble profession, and we appreciate the work and sacrifice, even though we don't always tell you that.

"We appreciate the sacrifice your families make, because we know it is a sacrifice for families, not just the peace officer."

In Washington D.C., President George W. Bush spoke at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service and expressed his appreciation to those who serve.

"Over the past 20 months, Americans have rediscovered how much we owe the men and women who repeat an oath and carry a badge. They have not only taken a job, they have accepted a mission," President Bush said. "When they are called or help, they answer it. You see danger, they will confront it. All of us rely, every day, on their high standards of conduct, their skill and your sense of duty."

President Bush also recognized the families of peace officers in his address.

"For an officer's loved ones, daily life is also an act of faith. Family members share the uncertainties and worries of service. America recognizes and honors the sacrifice of our law enforcement families. We thank you for your service to our country, as well," President Bush said.

Through the years, and especially since September 11, 2001, peace officers in the United States have seen a change in their profession, one of focusing on different kinds of peace keeping, a thought not lost on Williams.

"We have seen the change in law enforcement," Williams said. "We've gone from just investigating and catching the robbers, to other types of law enforcement. Our enemies today also include other types of crime, biological and chemical."

At the end of the service, Det. Wade Garrett with the Andalusia Police Department offered a prayer, asking for continued guidance and protection for law enforcement and in honor and remembrance of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.