Law enforcement officers, friends and family gathered in at the Criminal Justice Center on Monday for a National Police Week Memorial Service.
Lebanon Police Detective and president of the Wilson County Lodge #71 (Fraternal Order of Police) David Willmore served as emcee. After the presentation of the colors by the Lebanon and Mt. Julie Police Department Honor Guards, Willmore explained the origin of National Police Week.
In 1962 President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation designating May 15 of each year as Peace Officers Memorial Day. Willmore said that around the country candlelight vigils and other memorial services are held during this week to pay homage to our heroes and that there will be a large gathering in Washington, D.C. - which 20 local law enforcement will attend.
"We have to stand together," he said. "We are a brotherhood."
Lebanon Police Officer Kevin Ragland, president of Lebanon FOP Lodge #83, was next at the podium. He compared the way officers are designated to bring peace to their communities to a child's drawing of a rainbow. "You have to go through the storm to get to a rainbow. To a child, rainbows mean the worst is over and a calm has arrived," he said. "As officers we have the opportunity to bring calm, peace and hope to others... but this week we get to remember our own."
Wilson County Sheriff's Office Chaplain Don Willis said that he prays every day before getting in his patrol car - because law enforcement roles can often be dangerous jobs.
"My prayer for this country is that we are able to reach a balance between individual rights and liberty and the officers' rights to do their job and go home at night and see their families," he said.
Several Wilson County officers did not make it home. Mt. Juliet Police Chief James Hambrick, Lebanon Interim Chief Michael VanHook and Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan took turns reading off the names of those in law enforcement who were killed or died in the line of duty. They are: Mt. Juliet Sgt. Jerry Mundy; Wilson County Sheriff's Deputy John Musice; Wilson County Sgt. Wiley Williams; Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Oscar Morris; Wilson County Sheriff Harold Griffin; Constable Ben Northern; Wilson County Deputy Millard Brown; Wilson County Deputy John Oakley and Lebanon Police Chief Robert Nolen.
Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead, Lebanon Economic Development Director Helene Cash, State Rep. Mark Pody, Judge Barry Tatum, Judge John Gwin, former Wilson County Sheriff Terry Ashe and others were in attendance.
Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.