ROGERSVILLE — Every time a Hawkins County deputy enters or exits the sheriff's office at the employee entrance, he or she walks past memorials to the three local deputies who gave their lives in the line of duty.
Chief Deputy Tony Allen told the families of those three men Tuesday that the sacrifice of their loved ones is remembered.
The Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office hosted its sixth annual Peace Officers Memorial Service on Tuesday.
Ordinarily that service would have been held right in front of the memorials to fallen officers Gerald "Bubba" Gibson, John Wesley Wright and Drew Harrell.
Because of the threat of inclement weather, the service was moved into the Circuit Courtroom.
The three men, whose families filled the first two rows in the audience, are remembered by every officer of the HCSO, Allen said.
"I want you to know that every day, each one of these officers who walks in and out of those doors — you can hide in the parking lot and watch them look down at those memorials,” Allen said. “Your family has never been forgotten by us. They're our brothers and will always be our brothers."
Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said the words "thank you" will never be enough for the families of:
Deputy Gerald Monroe "Bubba" Gibson, July 13, 2000. Gibson was shot and killed during a 13-hour standoff with a burglary suspect.
Deputy John Wesley Wright, Aug. 16, 1988. Wright was shot and killed by another officer while assisting in the apprehension of an escaped convict.
"I wish there was some way I could help heal the pain that you all still feel," Lawson said during Tuesday’s memorial service. "I guess the best way that I can help you is to say that we think about you often, and we pray that God will give you strength and comfort. We know you've gone through a lot, and every time you see a fallen officer on TV, it brings back memories. We thank you for the sacrifice of your loved ones."
Lawson added, "It's sad to see how quickly America has turned against law enforcement. They seem to forget who will give their life for someone who they (the officers) don't even know. In 2017, 135 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty. This year there's already been (54) officers die. That's (five) more than this time last year. There are three brave men who made the ultimate sacrifice for Hawkins County."
They keynote address was given by HCSO Chaplain Rev. Rick Dinkins, who said the real heroes in today’s world aren’t characters in a comic book movie like “The Avengers” but the men and women of law enforcement.
Dinkins noted that there are only three defining forces have offered to die for you, and they are soldiers, police and Jesus Christ.
"Jesus died for your soul, the American G.I. died for your freedom, and the law enforcement officers place their lives on the line every single day when they put on the uniform. Many of them have paid the ultimate price with their lives in order to provide for you and I the continued service and protection that we desire. These fallen officers who we honor today are truly the real heroes of our world."
During Tuesday's memorial, presentation of the colors was made by the HCSO Tactical Team. The national anthem was sang by retired Detective Lt. Eve Jackson.
Rep. Gary Hicks, R-Rogersville, read the Tennessee General Assembly proclamation establishing May 13-19, 2018, as Police Week in Hawkins County.
Shari Dinkins offered a spiritual musical performance, followed by the playing of taps by Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper James Knipper.
A video of the entire service can be seen in the online version of this article at www.timesnews.net