Hundreds of officers, deputies, and troopers gathered along with members of the community to honor those who had given their lives in line of duty during a memorial service held in Fort Myers on Tuesday.
Gray skies brought rain, but officers stood at attention, saluting the flags presented by a mix of Fort Myers and Cape Coral police as well as Lee County deputies. Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson read a proclamation during the ceremony, held in Centennial Park, declaring May 16 Peace Officers Memorial Day.
“It’s a humbling experience to come here from the mayor’s office to the heart of Fort Myers with my colleagues and peers who with us join together to surround the families who have lost loved ones and say ‘We love you, and we will never forget you, we are with you forever,’” Henderson said.
The featured speaker, retired Lieutenant David Grossi, spoke about the physical and psychological toll the job takes on law enforcement officers. He also focused on what he described as an increasingly hostile attitude towards police, referencing the two sheriff’s deputies who were ambushed outside of a dinner in Trenton, Florida back in April.
The eight Lee County Sheriff’s deputies, six Fort Myers Police officers, and one Florida Highway Trooper who have lost their lives in the line of duty in Lee County were honored, as an officer in full dress uniform brought their family members a single rose and escorted the relatives to place the flower on a wreath remembering the fallen. A K-9 unit was on hand to escort the flowers honoring the two police dogs who had also been lost in the line of duty.
After reading the names of fallen, Staff Officer Scott Griffith gave an emotional promise to the families who had just laid a flower on the wreath.
“To the families of the fallen, our brothers and sisters were lost, but the will never be forgotten,” said Griffith.
A mother slipped orange Remington earmuffs over the ears of her infant son who wore a blue onesie with the words “future sheriff’s deputy” written across it. A twenty one gun salute thundered, and bagpipes played Amazing Grace. A planned helicopter fly-by never arrived, possibly cancelled due to the rain.
LCSO Chaplain Larry Ager sent those attending the memorial off with a prayer, encouraging them to reflect a portion of the love displayed by the officers who had laid down their lives for others.
“Those folks, who loved us so much that they laid down their lives, calling us friends, that we might live in freedom,” said Ager. ”The Bible declares that there is not greater love than a man or woman who would do that, give up their earthly life for us.“
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