Richard Snyder: Thursday will be a day to remember
Thursday, May 7, will be a day for remembering.
There will be no ceremony this year, and no memorial run from Las Vegas to Carson City, because of restrictions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
But flags will fly at half-staff on Thursday, which remains the designated day for the 23rd Annual Nevada Law Enforcement Memorial. It’s the day set aside to honor the 134 Nevada peace officers whose names are written on the statue on the Nevada Capital Grounds in Carson City.
By remembering, we promise to honor the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
By remembering, we honor that sacrifice, and the grief shared by their families, their friends and their colleagues.
That list of fallen heroes begins with Carson County Nevada Territory Sheriff John L. Blackburn, who was killed in 1861 while making an arrest. The memorial ceremony honors those who died in the line of duty during the previous year.
No Nevada peace officer died in the line of duty last year. But next year’s memorial will see at least one added from this year– that of Nevada Highway Patrol Sgt. Ben Jenkins who was shot while working near Ely on March 27.
The ceremony, rich in tradition and meaning, would include the participation of honor guards and other representatives of law enforcement agencies from around the state. Many of those agencies are represented on the roll call of the Memorial.
The playing of bagpipes, prayer, speeches, reverent music, a rider-less horse, a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps are all part of the memorial ceremony.
All of the events are meant to help us remember the individuals on the memorial statue and their stories, their bravery, their sacrifice and their role in providing our freedom and safety. Their stories need to be remembered.
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 gunshot, and the rest were killed as a result of actions taken by the suspects they were dealing with.
Among those, three were stabbed to death and nine died from beatings at the hands of offenders.
The stories of many of those on the memorial are described in the book “Nevada’s Fallen Peace Officers.” They have some common attributes:
• People who took an oath to protect and to serve, and who took that oath seriously every day.
• People who wouldn’t consider themselves as heroes, but just ordinary folk responding to extraordinary circumstances.
• People who rushed toward danger, rather than away from it.
• People who lost their lives while serving and protecting their communities.
The profession of law enforcement continues to be a challenging one. Its ranks are filled with unsung heroes who keep their communities safe each day.
The names of other heroes can be found on the Capitol Grounds. The Nevada State Veterans’ Memorial is located near the entrance to the Nevada State Library. There is a Memory Wall and a memorial to the USS Nevada (BB-36) which was beached during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Walking around the Capitol Grounds can provide a sense of walking on sacred ground, the ground used to honor our heroes.
There are heroes among us, heroes of the past and heroes of the present. While there will be no ceremony this year, it would be fitting for us all to pause and reflect at 1 p.m. on Thursday when the ceremony would have started. And give thanks for the fallen heroes and for those who walk in their footsteps.
The Rev. Canon Richard Snyder is an Episcopal priest who serves as chaplain for the Nevada Law Enforcement Memorial Association. He is also senior chaplain for the Nevada Department of Corrections.