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Saluting Those Who made the Ultimate Sacrifice

May 4, 2012

View photos from this year's Memorial Service


Memorial Service Photo Gallery

Words from Chief Jane Castor

There is a saying that easily defines our ceremony this evening. ALL GAVE SOME. OTHERS GAVE ALL.

I want to welcome each of you to the Annual Tampa Police Department's Memorial Ceremony, and thank you for attending this, our first evening service. A service dedicated to remembering and honoring those officers whose names have been etched upon our monument, those officers who gave all. We also gather this evening to express our gratitude and continued support to their families for the sacrifices made.

I want to thank City Council Members, distinguished guests, and fellow law enforcement officers for attending this evening.

At this time it is my honor to introduce our leader. A man who knows policing from the inside out. A member of the Tampa Police Department and a true friend Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

The month of May has been designated as a time to honor law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. There will be ceremonies and candle light vigils in communities throughout our nation and even in the nation's capitol. Officers, families and citizens will come together. Colors will be posted, speeches will be made, bag pipes will be played, a riderless horse will march. There will be fly overs and 21 gun salutes. And the poignant sounds of Amazing Grace will float through the air. All in honor of those lost in the line of duty.

There will be an unprecedented number of services in honor of those who died in 2011, as it was one of the deadliest years in recent history for law enforcement. We consider ourselves blessed, as there have been no new names etched upon our monument. That does not mean we have been without loss through the year. And it does not soften the pain of past loss.

In our unique and personal ceremony we honor the 31 brave men and women who have lost their lives serving the citizens of Tampa. John 15:13 says No greater love than this to lay down one's own life for one's friends. When we grasp for some logic or reasoning behind the loss of these 31 heroes, our friends and loved ones, it may be this passage that brings some comfort.

The reason for these formal services, so steeped in tradition, is found in the saying Let Them Never Be Forgotten. This memorial service may seem insignificant, in comparison to the ultimate sacrifice each of these men and women have made. It will however, always be of great importance to us. To gather the survivors - family, fellow law enforcement and community - to publicly and collectively assuage our losses and express our perpetual gratitude to the guardians of law and order too soon departed.

As I look out over the audience I see so many of you, wearing a badge or a star, who display the same courage and commitment that each of these officers did, going to work every day, never imagining that it may be your last. Each of us wants to believe that through hard work, vigilance and shear faith, we can prevent that which seems inevitable in this profession - another name being added to the memorial. I remind all in uniform to remain ever vigilant and never forget to watch out for each other.

To our community, I say thank you on behalf of all the men in women in uniform. You stand by our side in support, through the good times and bad. We can never adequately express our gratitude for all that you do. It is for your protection that we exist. One of the reasons Tampa is such a great city is because of the strong bond between law enforcement and the community.

To the families of our heroes - the day your loved one became a law enforcement officer, you placed them on loan to the citizens of Tampa. You also became a part of a larger family, the Tampa Police Department. As a family, we seek that which does not exist, the words that will diminish the pain and provide refuge from the devastation of your loss.

There will never be a sufficient expression of gratitude, sorrow or comfort. We do pledge that each year on this day we will gather to honor and pay tribute to your loved one, ensuring that their legacy lives on. As always we give you our appreciation, unending support and recognition of the sacrifice that you have made.

As each of you leave this service please take pause and pay tribute to those heroes whose names adorn our memorial. Their names are not only etched in granite, they are etched in our hearts and minds forever.