Richard Snyder: An opportunity to remember
April 29, 2017
The public is invited to gather at noon Thursday on the Capitol grounds to remember those who gave their lives in law enforcement service in Nevada.
This year marks the 20th observance of the Nevada Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Since 1861, 130 Nevada law enforcement officers have given their lives in the line of duty. The latest is North Las Vegas Police Detective Chad Parque, who died from injuries incurred in an automobile accident while on duty on Jan. 7, 2017. His name now joins the others engraved on the memorial.
Remembering Parque and all the others is an important tradition of the law enforcement community. It should be important to all of us. The act of remembering has a special significance in our Judeo-Christian heritage.
The Hebrew word for remember, "zakar," is used several times in scripture. When the word "remembering" is used in the Bible, it usually leads to, or results from, deliberate action.
Remembrance is an important component of worship. Biblical prayers ask God to remember the covenant with God's people. And scripture calls on God's people to remember God and God's commandments.
Jesus, when he instituted the Last Supper, told his disciples when they celebrated it in the future, they should do it "in remembrance" of him.
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Remembering isn't just a mental exercise. It's designed to put our beliefs into action. The people responsible for the memorial know that. And they invite the rest of us to come and participate in the events this week.
Those events include a reading of all 130 names on Wednesday from 8 to 10 p.m. On Thursday, the ceremony will consist of the culmination of an Olympic-type run by law enforcement officers who start in Las Vegas and run to Carson City, where the run ends at the memorial observance.
Each of the officers on the memorial has a unique story about their life and the cause of their death. Gunshot wounds were responsible for the deaths of 68 officers. One died from an accidental gun shot, and the rest were killed as a result of actions taken by the suspects they were dealing with. Among the others, three were stabbed to death and eight died from beatings at the hands of offenders.
To remember them, there will be honor guards from agencies throughout the state. There will be bagpipes, prayers, speeches honoring Parque and the others whose names are inscribed on the memorial, reverent music, a riderless horse, a 21-gun salute, and ending with Parque's family laying flowers on the memorial and the playing of taps.
The memorial commission has also discovered at least two of the 130 names are buried in graves with no headstone.
A headstone has now been made and will be installed in observances for Watchman John Thomas Montague of the Southern Pacific Railroad Police. Montague was fatally wounded in the Sparks rail yards on Jan. 5, 1905. That ceremony will be Friday at 2 p.m. in the Knights of Pythias Cemetery in Reno.
A headstone for Watchman Jose Sancedo of the Southern Pacific Railroad Police will be dedicated at 10 a.m. on May 10 at the Old City Cemetery in Elko. Sancedo was murdered in the rail yards at Palisade on Aug. 11, 1937.
Frank Adams, who has helped organize the memorial observance for its 20 years of existence, explained the Nevada Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Commission is committed to providing proper observance and recognition when it finds those on the list are resting in graves which are not marked.
Adams understands remembering.
All of us, each of us, has an opportunity this week to remember. Remember those who have made the supreme sacrifice in order that our society may be safe.
Come and join the observance. Pay respects to the families of those whose names are on the memorial. Say thanks to the representatives of the agencies they served with. Burn a blue light.
A memorial is a form of remembrance. The Legislative Counsel Police serve as the official keepers of the Law Enforcement Memorial, and the Explorer Scouts with the Carson City Sheriff's Office serve as memorial guardians.
Our society is better, safer and stronger because of the sacrifice we will remember this week. When we get involved, when we remember, it becomes a living memorial.
The Rev. Richard Snyder is an Episcopal priest who serves as chaplain for the Nevada Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Association. He is also chaplain at Warm Springs Correctional Center.