Originally created 05/16/03

City honors slain police



After rain fell throughout Thursday morning, city officials had a few rainless minutes to hold the second annual Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony at the Heroes Overlook monument on the Riverwalk 10th Street Plaza.

The 20-minute ceremony, recognizing police officers killed in the line of duty, was one of many assembled throughout the country on National Law Enforcement Memorial Day. A grand ceremony took place in Washington, where thousands of officers and President Bush were expected to attend, said Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength.

Augusta Mayor Bob Young was among the officials attending the morning observance at the monument dedicated to Robert Forsyth, the first U.S. officer killed in the line of duty. Forsyth, a U.S. marshal, died Jan. 11, 1794.

"We can never say enough thank-yous for what you do," Mr. Young told more than 20 officers present for the ceremony. "There is no city that has not lost an officer, and it is very important to show the sacrifice they give in defense of us all.

"We remember the sacrifice and thank you for your service," he said before he and Sheriff Strength placed a commemorative wreath on the Heroes Overlook monument.

Sheriff Strength said law enforcement is a tough job that many men and women take it for granted.

"It takes a special person to choose law enforcement as a career," the sheriff said.

Richmond County Marshal Steve Smith echoed the sheriff's comments, adding that it is tough waking up every morning without knowing whether an officer will take his or her "final call."

Commissioner Marion Williams asked for the protection of officers in Augusta and across the country and told the officers that they "stand in the gap between good and evil."

Reach Jonathan Heeter at (706) 823-3224 or jonathan.heeter@augustachronicle.com.