Richard Snyder: Thanking our law enforcement heroes
This coming Thursday will give us an opportunity to thank heroes.
The 21st annual Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony will start at 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 3 on the Capitol Grounds.
The names of 132 Nevada law enforcement officers who have given their lives in the line of duty since 1861 — heroes all — appear on the Memorial, and two new names will be added on Thursday.
Charleston Hartford, a Las Vegas Metro Police Department officer who was killed serving the public and helping others during the mass shooting in Las Vegas last Oct. 1 is one of them. He also served as a Sergeant First Class in the Nevada Army National Guard, as a coach for his son’s youth football team and helped his daughter’s dance team.
Thomas Brown, a National Park Service Ranger, is the second one. He suffered a fatal heart attack in 1973 during a training dive in Lake Mead National Park, where he was going through training to be part of the search and rescue team. He had retired from the Los Angeles County Fire Department after 30 years of service and was also a National Officer with the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
They join the names of other heroes on the Memorial.
And they will be honored by other heroes — members of honor guards and other representatives of law enforcement agencies from around the state. Many of their agencies are represented on the roll call of Memorial.
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.
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.
The traditional ceremony includes playing of bagpipes, prayers, speeches, reverent music, a riderless horse, a 21-gun salute, and the playing of taps.
The stories of many of those on the Memorial are described in the book “Nevada’s Fallen Peace Officers” which is available in the gift shop inside the Legislative Building.
There are some common attributes:
People who took an oath to protect and to serve
People who wouldn’t consider themselves heroes, just ordinary folk responding to extraordinary circumstances.
People who went toward danger rather than away from it.
People who lost their lives while serving and protecting their communities.
A walk around the Capitol Grounds provides glimpses of other heroes as well. The Nevada State Veterans’ Memorial is located near the entrance to the Nevada State Library. There’s a Memory Wall and a memorial to the USS Nevada (BB-36) which was beached during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
And there are plans to move the site of the Firefighter Memorial from Mills Park to the Capitol Grounds.
On Thursday, you’ll be able to see the names of heroes on the Memorial. You’ll be able to thank the living heroes by attending the service on Thursday and thanking those in uniform there for helping make our communities safer.
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.
And take a walk around the Capitol Grounds. Take the opportunity to remember those who have sacrificed their lives to provide the freedom and the safety we enjoy today.
There are heroes among us. They have earned our respect. They deserve our thanks. They deserve to be honored. And they deserve to be remembered.
The Rev. Canon Richard Snyder is an Episcopal priest who serves as chaplain for the Nevada Law Enforcement Memorial Association. He is also an institutional chaplain for the Nevada Department of Corrections.