PHOTOS: Law Enforcement Memorial Day at the Historic Courthouse
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The Washington County Sheriff's Office honored those who have fallen in the line of duty May 15 at the 18th annual Law Enforcement Memorial Day commemoration at the Washington County Historic Courthouse.
The event commemorates law enforcement and corrections officers who have died in the line of duty.
"We gather to give tribute to those who have given so much to our communities," Washington County Sheriff William Hutton said, welcoming members of the law enforcement and corrections community, county officials and community members to the event.
Officers give a great deal of themselves just by putting on the badge and going to work each day, Hutton said.
So often, when meeting new people, and telling them of his profession, many people respond: "I couldn't do your job," he said. It is evidence that people respect the challenge of law enforcement and corrections officers.
Each day, officers deal with the unknown, he said, and each day they may meet a violent offender, or be injured in some way on the job.
"There is a story behind each one," Hutton said of the officers who are killed. At the same time, he said, they share a single story – they gave their all to their community.
"For most,” Hutton said, “public safety is a calling."
Maplewood Police Chief David Thomalla gave the keynote address, recalling his comrade Sgt. Joe Bergeron, a member of the Maplewood Police Department, who was killed in the line of duty just more than two years ago.
While it is always said when such a tragedy occurs, "we will never forget," people do forget, Thomalla said. That is why it is fitting to conduct the memorial service each year, so as not to forget.
Thomalla recalled the trauma his own police department experienced with the death of Bergeron, with officers dealing with trauma from working at the crime scene at which he was killed, to feeling the loss of his presence still.
The lessons learned by many were "life is too short," Thomalla said, whether that lesson has played out in a healthy or unhealthy ways in officers' lives.
This year is the 50th annual Law Enforcement Memorial Day—and 19,000 names are engraved on the national memorial in Washington, D.C.
Of those, 223 officers are from Minnesota, and eight are from Washington County.
"It is not how these officers died that made them heroes, it is how they lived," Thomalla said, quoting the inscription on the memorial to pay tribute to those who have died.