An average of 150 officers die every year in the United States while in the line of duty.
In honor of these brothers in arms, the McPherson police and fire departments showed their respect during a memorial service Wednesday morning at the McPherson Cemetery.
The service was part of Peace Officers Memorial Day. The day was signed into effect by former U.S.
President John F. Kennedy in 1962, and honors U.S. officers who have fallen in the line of duty. Flags around the country were flown at half-mast Wednesday to honor those fallen officers.
McPherson has had two officers in its history die in the line of duty. The memorial service was conducted next to the grave of one of those men — Night Chief Martin Grant.
Grant died in 1937 from a fatal heart attack, after struggling with a disorderly patron at a cafe on North Main Street.
The other McPherson officer to die while in the line of duty was Night Chief Charles Bruce. Bruce died in 1933 from a fatal gunshot to the heart from gang members after responded to a report of a gas theft.
McPherson Police Chief Rob McClarty said the service was conducted not only to honor the two former McPherson officers, but officers nationwide.
“I think it’s an honor to our own fallen,” he said, “and it’s a reminder that our officers are the thin blue line of the law.”
The thin blue line McClarty mentioned is a symbol over the badge of law enforcement officers, which represents officer’s duty of separating the law-abiding from the lawbreakers.
McClarty said McPherson has been fortunate to have not lost an officer since the 1930s, but that nationally, police deaths have increased.
“It happens too often and, sadly, it’s just a sign of the times,” McClarty said.
McClarty said there has been a 21 percent increase in officer deaths so far this year in the United States as compared to the same time last year. The three leading causes of officer deaths are gunfire, heart attacks and accidents. Those accidents can be in the form of car wrecks, being run over or death during an aggravated battery.
McClarty was the speaker for the service, and honored fallen officers with a scripture from the Bible; Matthew 5:9. The verse says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Dick Reynolds, pastor for McPherson’s First Presbyterian Church, delivered a prayer over the fallen.
“It matters not the style and shield they wore, only that they served with pride and honor,” Reynolds said. “Serving wherever needed, richest mansion and dirtiest alley, confident and proud, highly honored by the people’s trust, they carried a shield mindful of all their sacred duties.”
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