WEIRTON - Several residents and area public safety officials, current and retired, came out Monday to honor fallen officers at the Weirton Municipal Building.
The public and members of the Weirton Fraternal Order of Police gathered on the city steps at 11 a.m. Monday for a ceremony to honor fallen heroes. Kicking things off was former police chief and now Magistrate Judge Scott Hicks singing the national anthem followed by a performance of "Amazing Grace" by Betsy Bethel McFarland, a member of the Pittsburgh MacDonald Pipeband, on the bagpipes - an old tradition associated with police officers.
Weirton Police Sgt. Steve Falbo served as the master of ceremonies. Typically, he said the ceremony is brief and somber and hosted by individual lodges throughout the nation.
Mayor George Kondik said it was a day to remember the "men in blue" who have always been there protecting the citizens and communities in which they live and serve.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those fallen heroes," he said.
Kondik presented a proclamation that stated in 1962 President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week. Currently, tens of thousands of law enforcement officers throughout the nation participate in a number of planned events that honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
"There are approximately 700,000 sworn police officers who give their lives daily to ensure public safety," said Kondik. "They are husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters and we honor them today as we remember to carry on their life's work and the ultimate sacrifice they gave as they carry on the motto - To Serve and Protect."
The Rev. Ed Rudiger of the Cove Presbyterian Church said God sent his son to teach us to love one another as ourselves and referenced John 15:13.
"Jesus said, 'Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends' and that's what we are here to remember today," he said. "These men and women give their lives for their families and friends, but everyone throughout the community."
During the event, the Weirton Police Department presented a wreath honoring the fallen police officers as the flag was lowered to half staff near the Weirton Fallen Police Officers Memorial located near the steps of the city building.