Law enforcement officers representing all of Richmond County’s law enforcement departments gathered by the steps of the Richmond County Courthouse at 11 a.m. Thursday morning to honor men and women in uniform, and especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
After opening the ceremony with remarks from Richmond County Sheriff James E. Clemmons Jr., the Sheriff’s Office received a plaque from Richmond County Commissioner John Garner, displaying the Proclamation to honor National Law Enforcement Week and Peace Officers Memorial Day.
After the Posting of the Colors and the Pledge of Allegiance, Ricqui’ta McNeil sang the National Anthem.
Guest Speaker Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly spoke about the beginning of Peace Officers Day in 1962, and read several statistics including one officer being killed in the line of duty every 50 hours. According to Kelly, more than 19,000 officers have made the ultimate sacrifice. He read the names of North Carolina officers who lost their lives during the last year.
“When we lose an officer we also lose a sports coach or a church deacon,” said Kelly. “We lose a father or mother, or brother or sister or child.”
Kelly said the event reminds him of the Bible verse from John 15:13, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
“Some have never met you but swore an oath to protect you and maybe lay down their life for you,” said Kelly.
Hamlet Police Chief Amery Griffin spoke as well, and said, “Thank you to all law enforcement officers and thank you to all the families and friends.”
Griffin said the Hamlet Chief of Police was killed in 1945 and wanted to acknowledge his family.
“It’s not about whose in charge,” said Clemmons. “It’s about working together.”
First Sgt. Andreas Dietrich of the State Highway Patrol addressed the crowd as well.
“With the mission comes the ultimate sacrifice,” said Dietrich. “This takes devotion to the community that cannot and should not be forgotten. In North Carolina 524 officers have been killed in the line of duty.”
Dietrich read the quote, “The nation who forgets their defenders will soon be forgotten.”
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.