Sounds of bagpipes played in the distance as friends, family and fellow members of Law Enforcement slowly gathered on the lawn. Candles bordered a long black tablecloth draped table where 28 photos rested.
It was a night of respect, a night of honor and mainly a night of remembrance. The annual Southern Nevada Law Enforcement Memorial was held at Police Memorial Park and over two hundred attendees gathered to pay their respects to the 28 pictured officers and their families and friends.
Each year law enforcement officers from across Nevada gather at the memorial during this time of year to honor fellow officers who have died in the line of duty. The memorial is held each calendar week of each year during which May 15 occurs marking the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Day.
“This is the Southern Nevada Law Memorial. Out of respect, law enforcement agencies from across the state come and visit the memorial with us in the ceremony. Even though we are southern and northern, we are one large law enforcement community,” said Captain Kirk Primas, who has been on the Metro Police force for almost 27 years.
Attendees were welcomed to the ceremony and the memorial began as a march of honor took place, led by a multi-agency Honor Guard and the families of the fallen officers.
“I get asked on a regular basis why we do this. I think people think we do this for us for the police officers but we do this for the families that’s why we do this for the families,” said Captain Kirk Primas, who has been on the Metro Police force for almost 27 years.
For the next few minutes, the crowd was silent, as the Honor Guard presented the colors of each branch of law enforcement, a memorial wreath was set and the Rev. Doctor Vincent ONeill gave a solemn invocation.
“It’s a constant reminder what these officers gave to the community, the ultimate sacrifice, they lost their lives and their families have suffered just a great of a loss. It’s a motivator actually for all of us that work today, that there are people that sacrificed for everybody in this community through good and bad times,” said Primas.
As a melancholy silence grew over the atmosphere, Palo Verde High School’s Vocal Infinity Choir quietly sang America the Beautiful and the names and agency of the fallen officers was read aloud. As each officer’s name was announced, family took the moment to present a white rose in the memorial bouquet that sat at the front of the crowd.
“This is a time for me to show my respect for the fallen officers, for my friends that are on the force, just a small time of respect,” said attendee Greg Pushard, 48.
While no law enforcement members have been added to the memorial wall this year, the memorial serves as a remembrance to those who have given their lives in the line of duty, years prior. From the first memorial honoree, Officer Ernest James May in 1933 to the most recent, Officer Daniel J. Leach in late 2009, 28 officers were honored Thursday evening at the memorial.
“I didn’t know any of them named, but you don’t have to. You just have to come here and honor them and honor the alive ones,” said Pushard.
The memorial concluded with a 21-gun salute, a three plane fly-by overhead and a final song of Hold Me Rock Me. As the Vocal Infinity sang their last tribute song for the occasion, hugs were shared between loved ones in the crowd and tears began to fall.
“I thought it was as moving and as appropriate a memorial service as I have ever attended. It was moving, the speeches were lovely it gave us an opportunity to pay tribute not only to the fallen law enforcement officers but to their families, and to thank them for their tremendous sacrifice and to thank those that are currently serving in law enforcement for the sacrifices they make for the rest of us putting themselves in harms way every day,” said Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, who was in attendance for the entire memorial service.
As the crowd prepared to depart, Metro Police Assistant Sheriff Ray Flynn closed the memorial with one final thought before thanking the crowd for attending; “as you drive home tonight, remember it’s not how they died that we remember them, it’s how they lived their lives.”