Community, officers honor firefighters, law enforcement personnel
By Shavonne Potts
Thursday marked the 13th year of the Rowan County Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service, a year when no law officer died in the line of duty in Rowan County or the state.
But as local law enforcement officers and other members of the community gathered at First Presbyterian Church, two names were on their minds and lips:
Victor Isler and Justin Monroe.
They died in March fighting a fire that consumed Salisbury Millwork, and the tragedy remains fresh on people’s minds.
“Two have fallen this year. They wore a badge and a shield. They chose a life of service. They were Salisbury firemen…firefighters,” said Salisbury Police Chaplain Russell Williams.
The service culminates local observances of National Police Week.
Williams said he and other chaplains assemble each year to pray for law enforcement officers and their families. They pray for no new names on the annual roll call.
Capt. Doug Stevens and three other members of the Salisbury Fire Department attended Thursday’s service.
“It shows the unity of this city, especially between firefighters and police officers,” Stevens said. “We protect people from the rages of fire, and they protect people against the rages of crime.”
Stevens expressed his appreciation for Salisbury.
“I am so proud of the city of Salisbury. I am honored and proud to live in this city,” he said.
A sheer black cloth draped carefully across a wreath stood near the church altar to honor those who have served and continue to protect.
A red rose is incorporated into the wreath for local officers who died in the line of duty. A white rose is placed for officers who continue to serve, and a blue carnation is added for officers who passed but not while on duty.
Highway Patrol Trooper A.M. Burr attended the ceremony to show “respect to the families and represent the Highway Patrol.”
Burr said he is also thankful that the church opens its doors each year for the ceremony.
Sarah Hawkins doesn’t particularly know anyone in the law enforcement community, but she attends the ceremony every year.
“It’s a really meaningful event. It does something for me,” the Salisbury resident said.
She recalled when her brother, who served during the Vietnam War, was killed. She received so much community support.
“I think it’s nice to pay it back. If God is good to you, you ought to show a sign by showing thanks to others,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins said God has been good to her, and she is thankful.
Barbara Teichroew has attended the service for the past four years with her husband, who is a Salisbury Police chaplain.
“They work together instead of as separate entities,” she said of the relationship between law enforcement and chaplains.
She’s thankful to have people willing to wear a police officer or deputy badge and stand up and protect her.
During the service, Salisbury Police Officer Greg Pannell played the violin and church pianist Flora Abernathy-Lester accompanied Chaplain Mike Oney in performing “You Raise Me Up.”
The service also features a 21-gun salute and Taps in honor of the fallen.
Contact Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.