Fallen officers remembered at annual memorial service
By Karen Hall
Rock Creek Park on a beautiful spring evening was the scene of the annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service last week, organized by Chief Chuck Forbis and the Lewisburg Police Department.
In 2013, 111 law enforcement officers died while on duty in the United States, said Forbis. This is an 8 percent decrease from last year, and the fewest in any year since 1959.
"It's still too many," Forbis said. "We're not here to mourn, but to honor and remember" Lewisburg's Officer Billy Blackwell and Detective Eugene Leverette, as well as Tennessee Highway Patrol Troopers Calvin Jenks and James Perry.
County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett announced that state highways in Marshall County would be named for Blackwell and Leverette in the near future.
"This will be a constant reminder," he said.
Liggett also mentioned Mark Smith, an officer and emergency medical technician, who suffered a career-ending event in Petersburg in May 1999.
"We will not let people forget," Liggett said, before reading the proclamation naming the week "National Police Week" in Marshall County. The proclamation was then presented to Sheriff Norman Dalton.
Police chaplains Steve Thomas, Tom Dumser, and Larry Chatman all spoke, and so did politicians Scott DesJarlais and Billy Spivey, who were in Lewisburg for a Town Hall meeting.
Forbis thanked the pair for cutting their meeting short by an hour in order to attend the Memorial Service.
"There are only two words that have any value at all, that are worthy of what you do, and those are, 'Thank you,'" said Spivey.
"I am humbled to be here tonight," said DesJarlais. "We forget to thank those around us, but thank you for letting me participate in this important ceremony."
For the first time, the Lewisburg Police Department had its own Color Guard to present the American and Tennessee flags, and to fire three volleys from the bridge over Rock Creek.
The national anthem was sung by Makell Sain and Kaila Jackiewicz sang "Hero." Todd Boswell played "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes, and Colin Beatty closed the ceremony by playing "Taps."
The "End of Watch" poem was read by THP Trooper Ronnie Wright, who also escorted Jane Whitaker for the presentation of the wreath.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol helicopter, piloted by Brad Lund, flew over, and then landed on the far side of Rock Creek.
The Honor Guard was composed of Cpl. John Christmas, Detective Scott Braden, and Officers Vincent Cuevas, Mike Davis, Clyde Ragsdale, Anthony Garrett, and Joey Repasky.