(L-R) Sheriff Ronnie Lawson, Rev. Jim Hagy and Lt. Chad Gillenwater bow their heads during the invocation that opened Wednesday's 2nd annual HCSO Law Enforcement Officers' Memorial. Jeff Bobo photos.
ROGERSVILLE — Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said Wednesday that one of the greatest fears for any sheriff or chief of police is to lose an officer under their command.
Between January 2013 and May 2014 there have been 146 police officers killed in the line of duty in the United States.
The Hawkins County Sheriff's Office was joined Wednesday morning by several other law enforcement agencies in the region in remembering not only the three Hawkins County deputies who have been killed in the line of duty in the county's history, but also the approximately 20,000 police officers in the U.S. who have given their lives while protecting their communities since the first such death occurred in 1791.
The second annual HCSO Law Enforcement Officers' Memorial Service Wednesday, held on the sheriff's office side of the Hawkins County Justice Center, coincided with National Police Week.
"I strive every day to teach young officers to be the best they can be, to make God first, their family second, and this job third," Lawson said during the memorial. "If you've ever noticed, when there's a fight, law enforcement officers go toward the fight instead of away from it. It's more than just writing a ticket or working a wreck. It's about being the best you can be."
Lawson added, "I ask you to pray for me and my officers as we struggle to keep Hawkins County a safer place and a better place to live."
Wednesday's memorial included the presentation of colors by the Kingsport Police Department Honor Guard, followed by a stirring rendition fo the national anthem by Vickie Bennett.
Rev. Rick Dinkins from Henard's Chapel Missionary Baptist Church presided over the invocation.
Hawkins County Mayor Melville Bailey also read a proclamation naming the week of May 11-17, 2014 "Police Week" in Hawkins County.
The keynote address was made for the second year in a row by Rev. Jim Hagy of the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office.
Following Hagy's address, Lawson presented roses to the family members of the HCSO's three fallen deputies:
Hagy added, "We are here to remember the sacrifice they made. We're here to remember the life that they gave. To remember how they lived and how they died. Not to let them fall through the cracks or fade from our memories, but to forever pass on the legacy and to pass on to generations after us the great sacrifice that good men and women have made for this community."
Wednesday' ceremony closed with a 21-gun salute by the HCSO SWAT team, and the playing of Taps by Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper James Knipper.