North Platte’s new law enforcement memorial was dedicated Tuesday, in conjunction with National Peace Officers Memorial Day.
Flags flew at half mast above the granite memorial, which is the result of months of fund raising. The center stone is black reflective Asian granite, the same as the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. The center stone is flanked by Georgia granite stones with the names of 11 officers who died in the line of duty.
The memorial stands solemnly near the shore of Iron Horse lake, just east of the 20th Century Veterans Memorial.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as a day of national observance for fallen officers. Services have been held ever since.
Troop D State Patrol Capt. Martin Denton read a proclamation from Gov. Pete Rickets, paying tribute to vital, dangerous job of law enforcement.
North Platte Mayor Dwight Livingston said law officers serve without regard for the perils and hazards, safeguarding the lives and property of fellow Americans, keeping us free from the fear of civil disorder.
Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said he started his legal career in 1985 with the Lincoln County Attorney’s Office, and his proud to see the monument in North Platte. Turning to officers standing at attention to his right, Peterson thanked them for their dedication.
You do it because you care, not for fame or pay,” he said. “The type of behavior you face is never predictable. You take a risk every time you go up to a vehicle (on I-80) or knock on the door where there is a domestic dispute.”
Chaplain Gary Smith thanked North Platte Police Chief Mike Swain for his dedicated service and leadership. Swain is retiring in October.
Swain received a standing ovation.
Quoting the Bible, Smith urged his fellow officers to be “strong and courageous because the love of God goes with you.”
Survivors of two fallen officers were present for the ceremony – Delores Amos Bayer and the survivors of Mark Wagner.
In 1973, Trooper George Amos was shot and killed after stopping a drunk driver on I-80 near Lexington. The suspect man and his wife struggled ith Trooper Amos inside of the patrol car. They were able to gain control of his service weapon and shoot him.
Trooper Mark Wagner was accidentally shot and killed by a fellow officer during a defensive tactics training exercise at the State Patrol headquarters in North Platte in 1999.
“It’s a great honor for all the troopers and law enforcement,” Bayer said of the memorial after the ceremony. “I hope no more names go on it.”
Kevin Kennedy of North Platte, who led the drive to establish the memorial, said peace officers observance is an effort to come together as a country, community and family.
“Too often do we find ourselves caught up in the negativity of the world; particularly with ones in the line of duty, do we fail to see the positive every day encounters. Too often do we pick apart and harass the roles of society rather than acknowledge our safety and freedom,” Kennedy said.