Courtesy photo | Cheryl Hemric

Courtesy photo | Cheryl Hemric

<p>Fallen law enforcement officers were honored during the Robeson County Executive Law Enforcement Officers’ Association’s 30th Annual Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony held Thursday at Robeson Community College.</p>
                                 <p>Courtesy photo | Cheryl Hemric</p>

Fallen law enforcement officers were honored during the Robeson County Executive Law Enforcement Officers’ Association’s 30th Annual Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony held Thursday at Robeson Community College.

Courtesy photo | Cheryl Hemric

LUMBERTON – Robeson Community College in partnership with the Robeson County Executive Law Enforcement Officers’ Association paid tribute to law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty on Thursday in honor of National Police Week.

National Police Week is observed every year in May throughout the United States that pays tribute to the local, state and federal officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.

“For many families today is a reminder of those who will never have the opportunity to come home again,” said RCC President Melissa Singler during the 30th Annual Robeson County Executive Law Enforcement Officers’ Association Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony. “Today we are here to honor those men and women who lost their lives in the line of ducty. Their sacrifice is a true expression of selfless service.”

“We will never forget their sacrifice and willingness to serve to our communities. They are our heroes,” Singler said.

Paul McDowell, a member of the Board of Trustees, gave the invocation for the ceremony, praying for our community, law enforcement officers and their families.

The ceremony took place in front of the Sammy Cox Law Enforcement Center and included a 21-gun salute. One family of a fallen officer had a chance to lay a wreath at the monument dedicated to fallen law enforcement officers during the ceremony.

“It doesn’t get any easier,” said Bruce Meares, president of the Executive Law Enforcement Association. “There are no words that can ease those pains of hurt … each one of us in law enforcement know that when we leave our family and start a shift, there is a good chance that we will not return.”

Names of each officer killed in the line of duty from the region, dating as far back as the 1800s was read aloud by Pete Monteiro, the law enforcement training coordinator at RCC.

“The burden that officers and their families carry is unlike any other job,” said Lumbee Tribal Chairman John Lowery.

The flag was raised to half-staff while an officer with the North Carolina Highway Patrol sang “The National Anthem.” After that, an officer played “Taps,” a simple melody that can express gratitude when words fail, honoring men and women who have laid down their lives and paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“John 15:13 says that ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” said Lowery.

As Lowery looked out to the audience, he looked at the officers standing before him and said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you…”

At the end of the ceremony white doves were released, adding a powerful and symbolic sentiment of finding peace and comfort for the law enforcement officers our community has lost.

Cheryl Hemric is Robeson Community College’s Public Information officer. She can be reached at [email protected]