Nevada’s fallen officers honored
Appeal Staff Writer
Cory Gomez looked dapper in his blue pin-striped suit, tie, and a shirt that matched his father’s. The Carson City 4-year-old, who argues that he’s 6, knows that his dad, Deputy Jose Gomez, works in the Carson City Jail.
On Thursday, the polite, beautiful boy sat quietly next to his father in the packed bleachers at the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Ceremony.
Cory said the hour-long memorial wasn’t that fun, “ma’am.”
“Even if he doesn’t understand everything, it’s still important to me that he sees what other people have (sacrificed),” said his dad.
Cory may question his age, but he knows without hesitation what he wants to be when he grows up.
“A police officer,” he said.
Dozens of people attended Thursday’s ceremony to honor the 101 Nevada peace officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty since 1881.
Though no new names were engraved into the granite memorial that stands on the Capitol grounds this year, the ceremony was for those still living, said Gov. Jim Gibbons.
“Not only does this memorial enshrine the names of our fallen officers … it also serves as a physical reminder of the dangers associated with their profession,” Gibbons said. “Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, it stands here in mute testimony, just as our men and women in uniform protect us every hour of every day. The 101 officers we honor today deserve our undying gratitude for their service and their sacrifice.”
Members of every law enforcement agency from across the state were represented in the honor guard. A bag-pipe quartet played “Amazing Grace.” Three buglers, each stationed alone in the tree lined plaza, shared a haunting echo of “Taps.”
“It is a unique individual who is willing to walk out the door every day and face potential life-threatening situations in order to protect people he may or may not know,” said Attorney General Catherine Cortez-Masto. “Though it is sobering to look at the list of inscribed names and realize that each represents a life cut short, as we gather here this year we have reason to celebrate – no new names have been added since last year’s tribute. Today, rather than mourn the loss of another brave officer, we can look upon these names and give thanks and appreciation to them for giving us hope.”
Carson City Deputy Josh Stagliano, South Lake Tahoe Police Officer Erik Eissinger, Douglas County Deputy Robert Duffy and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Sgt. John Liberty, shared the task of delivering the memorial baton, containing a scroll of the names of all 101 lost officers.
The four men share one other thing, they’ve all been shot in the line of duty and survived.
For the husband of Jan Blaser-Upchurch, the ending wasn’t as blessed.
In 1990, her husband John Blaser, an Arizona Highway Patrol trooper, lost his life when he and another trooper were struck and killed by a drunker driver as they investigated a fatal accident involving another drunken driver.
Blaser said through her grief, she became the mountain-region trustee for a group called Concerns of Police Survivors – an organization that provides resources to assist in the rebuilding of the lives of surviving families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
Blaser-Upchurch’s story served as a reminder of the pain survivors face.
“We will never forget their laugh. We are proud of them,” she said. “With tears in our eyes and an ache in our heart, we’ll always be proud and always remember.”
• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.
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