“A hero remembered never truly dies, as the saying goes.”

The McPherson Police Department will recognize the greatest of sacrifices at the annual law enforcement memorial event on May 15.

A memorial service and candlelight vigil to recognize fallen officers from McPherson, the state and the U.S. will be held at 7 p.m. May 15 at McPherson Free Methodist Church 1010 S. Maple St., McPherson. The service will be approximately 30 minutes long and families should feel welcome to attend.

“The point of any memorial is remembrance. Unfortunately, when the person who passed is not an immediate family member, it seems our memories of their accomplishments, service, and sacrifice are shorter. With more than 100 officers nationally dying each year and two officers from McPherson, honoring the fallen publicly is an important way to keep their legacies in our corporate memory,” said MO Hawkinson, executive sergeant of the McPherson Police Department. “A hero remembered never truly dies, as the saying goes.”

Peace Officers Memorial Day was designated as May 15 by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. The week in which that date falls is National Police Week, which is May 15 through 21 this year.

“Since that time, law enforcement agencies around the country have sought ways to honor peace officers’ line of duty deaths annually during that week,” Hawkinson said. “These memorials are a tribute to the sacrifice of men and women who died while protecting and serving their communities. The largest of these events draws 25,000 to 40,000 attendees annually to the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. for a candlelight vigil, seminars, and receptions.”

The McPherson Police Department’s Law Enforcement Memorial event has been held in different forms for more than 20 years. Sometimes the event will include laying a wreath at the headstones of Charles Marrion Bruce and Martin H. Grant, the two night chiefs who lost their lives while serving in McPherson.

This year, the event will be held at McPherson Free Methodist Church, as the department’s newest chaplain, David Kessler, pastors that church.

“Both our chaplains work hard to be available to the department, and sometimes that includes offering use of church facilities,” Hawkinson said. “The chief was looking for a more formal setting this year and unfortunately, most of the USD 418 properties we might typically use were designated for another purpose that particular evening or not conducive to our purpose.”

The event is both for the public to recognize the service of police departments across the nation, and also for officers to remember their calling.

“I think our hope each year for our local memorial service is to honor the sacrifice of the men and women of law enforcement who died in the line of duty,” Hawkinson said. “We want to remind the public we serve, and one another, that law enforcement is a calling, which sometimes requires heroic courage. Those who die in that effort should be remembered for their valor and in the hope their sacrifice was not in vain.”