Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) – Law enforcement officers from across the area gathered along with families and supporters Tuesday to remember the officers who have given the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, in order to keep the streets of Lexington County safe over the years. This annual memorial is held at the beautiful park beside the Marc Westbrook Judicial Center in Lexington. There, a monument is engraved with the names of each who’ve died along with the insignia of every law enforcement agency in Lexington County. As is customary, departments take turns leading this memorial. This year, that responsibility fell to the Town of Batesburg-Leesville’s Police Department.
The service was opened by the Honor Guard from the Lexington Police Department who posted the colors. Afterward, Chief Wallace Oswald of the Batesburg-Leesville PD welcomed those who were in attendance and thanked them for coming. The Reverend Gary Evans, SCDC, (Ret.) gave the invocation followed by the keynote address from Circuit Court Judge Knox McMahon, (Ret.). Then, Mayor Lancer Shull of Batesburg-Leesville read a proclamation before two sergeants from the B&L Police Department solemnly called each name of the ones who had died since records have been kept. Those date back to 1897 when Police Officer John Goss of the New Brookland Police Department, the area now known as West Columbia, died in the line of duty. The last to sacrifice was Richland County Deputy Sheriff Byron Cannon who died in a car crash on I-20 in Lexington County. There are 17 names in all engraved on that granite wall, their places paid for by their blood and the tears of those who loved them.
As part of the program, Chief Wallace Oswald and Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon laid a wreath of flowers at the base of the monument that’s inscribed with those names of the fallen. There was almost dead silence, few noticed the traffic that passed on South Lake or Main, as they watch these men of distinction lay delicate flowers to remember men and women who died doing what isn’t delicate at all. The moment was only broken when a member of the Lexington Police Departments Honor Guard played a soulful, haunting verse of taps. The formal service ended with another prayer and the retiring of the colors.
As the service ended, groups stood quietly talking, it was almost as if their voices were lowered so as not to disturb the officers’ eternal sleep. Slowly, people began to slip away, back to their busy lives and work. The officers in attendance were touched, but in some ways, one must wonder if the families weren’t the ones most affected by this service. While their brave loved ones take to the streets of the county to do another tour daily, the families must think, will this be the day? Will there be that knock on the door; will they open it to see another officer in a dress uniform? Is this the day that the words, “We regret to inform you,” is uttered on their doorstep? The families seemed to leave deep in thought, perhaps uttering a prayer that the day will never come when they must experience the unbearable.