• Today's Daily Devotion
“That None May Die in Vain”
THE SETTING was serene and the mood somber: Citizens of Hamilton County, Tennessee, had unveiled a permanent law enforcement memorial to honor local officers killed in the ...

“THAT NONE MAY DIE IN VAIN”

Chaplain C. Grant Wolf (Ret.)

Chattanooga, TN, Police Department

THE SETTING was serene and the mood somber: Citizens of Hamilton County, Tennessee, had unveiled a permanent law enforcement memorial to honor local officers killed in the line of duty. That beautiful May morning in 2003, an impressive memorial was dedicated to show grateful appreciation for those who had made the supreme sacrifice to “serve and protect” their fellow citizens. The five-and-one-half-ton bronze memorial is impressive, but its real significance is in what it represents. Within niches on three sides are life-size bronze figures: a grieving man, a grieving woman, and St. Michael, the patron saint of police. The fourth niche, facing a timeless marble wall, is empty, symbolizing the loss of slain officers to the community.

Plans for the memorial had been set in motion fifteen years before. In 1988, then chief deputy, Jim Hammond (later sheriff), persuaded county commissioners to designate a site near the new courthouse where a fitting memorial could be erected. Later, the chief and his staff initiated a countywide effort to raise funds for the memorial. But ten years before it was completed, annual services began on the site, where a “pocket park” had been created.

Now a tradition, the morning service is “always the same, yet different.” Local, state, and national law enforcement agencies are represented, as well as many dignitaries. On the opposite side of the wide street where the memorial is located, a long row of police cars are parked side-by-side. The service begins and ends with prayer, and the “The Star-Spangled Banner” is sung. Chairs are placed to the side of the memorial for dignitaries, and in front—facing it—for family members of the deceased. There are brief speeches, but the main emphasis is a ceremony honoring the dead. As the name of each deceased officer is called, a uniformed officer from his or her agency comes forward, places a rose at the base of the memorial, salutes, and retreats. All is silent except for the rustle of leaves and songs of birds. This is a time and place where the dead are honored. At the close of the service the blue lights on the cars are turned on, symbolizing the “thin blue line.”

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Daily, the memorial reminds us there is a price for freedom, and that price may demand lives. And once a year, during National Police Week, we honor those who have paid the price—“that none may have died in vain.”


Other Items In The Battlefields and Blessings Series

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