The Porter County Sheriff’s Department was the location for the annual Police Memorial Ceremony. This event takes place every year during National Law Enforcement Officer Week in conjunction with their annual inspection. Officers in full uniform were in attendance along with their family, friends, prominent city and state officials, and many others. They all came to pay tribute to the men and women who work tirelessly and selflessly to keep us safe.
The ceremony began with the Presentation of Colors which was dutifully executed by the Porter County Sheriff’s Department Color Guard. Following, the National Anthem was beautifully performed by the John Simatovich Elementary School Choir.Sheriff David Lain gave the opening speech. He stood proudly behind the podium as he addressed his fellow officers.
“It’s a privilege to have each and every one of you in attendance today. It means a lot to every member of this department,” Lain said. “As you’ll note in your program there are four names in it that are hallowed. They all died doing what they loved. Each played a significant part in this department and played a significant part in our lives…The men we honor today, and all the men and women of this noble profession, who literally sacrificed everything in this cause didn’t expect to leave those they love so soon. They didn’t expect it, but they did accept it. They were prepared. They prepared for their final day on the very first day they put the uniform on. It was because of their code of honor, their decision and dedication to help others and their commitment to a cause greater than themselves –that’s what placed them in readiness… It was in their core.”
The four officers that Lain referred to were: Officer Edward Blakely who served with the Porter County Sheriff’s Department who’s last watch was November 28, 1961.
Officer Timothy Hecht who served with the Porter County Sheriff’s Department for eight years. His watch ended on February 11, 1999.
FBI S. S.W.A.T Team member and former commander of the Porter County Sheriff’s S.W.A.T team Robert Hardesty. His watch ended on June 2, 2005.
Officer Phillip Pratt who served with the Porter County Sheriff’s Department since 2009. His watch ended May 16, 2012.
When Lain finished speaking, Sargent Larry LaFlower rose and announced the winner of the Police Week Essay Contest.Chandler Hawk was the winner of the contest and he read his easy to the awaiting crowd. In his essay, Hawk talks about all of the reasons that police officers make him feel safe. It moved many and it was a perfect representation of the love and respect that we feel for our police officers. It was a welcome addition to the ceremony.
The keynote speaker for the event was Tom Ridge. He has quite a bit of experience with the law as he was an attorney, the first Secretary of Homeland Security, a member of the US House of Representatives and the 43rd Governor of Pennsylvania.
“About a week from today on Memorial Day, at podiums across the country, people will give speeches about our collective debt to our men and women in uniform who in wars past made the ultimate sacrifice,” Ridge said. “In places of worship, prayers will be given up for those who carry our flag into battle around the world and did not return. And many will be grateful for prayers that were answered because their loved ones came home. And I suspect that you agree with me that every day, not just on Memorial Day, we should remember these brave men and women. But I must tell you that there is another group of men and women who ear a different uniform, but are as much a part of our life of public service as those in the military. And we gather today to pay tribute to them. They don’t wear the battle gear do desert combat but they wear a uniform with badges and serve their community. They serve right here every day in this community and communities around the world.”
After that Pastor Jay Birky gave the invocation, “Taps” was played by members of the Chesterton High School Band, “3 – Volleys” was done and the Colors were retired according to ceremony by the Porter County Sheriff’s Department Color Guard. The children’s choir sang America the Beautiful, and Lain closed the ceremony.
It’s events like this that make you proud of your country and countrymen. Those who have fallen and those who are still with us will always hold a special place in our hearts. If you have someone in your life who is a law enforcement official, show them some gratitude. A hug, handshake, smile, a simple, “Thank you,” –whatever is fine. They deserve it.