Sheriff’s Office remembers fallen comrades

All the unrelated commotion at the Portland Police Bureau eclipsed a moving ceremony that took place last week. Take a look, and you’ll have new-found respect for Multnomah County’s law officers …

Portland Police Bureau Highland Guard bagpiper Sgt. Brian Kelly sounds his pipes at the this years Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Memorial Service.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The top news stories of the day on May 12 concerned the changes taking place at the Portland Police Bureau in downtown Portland.

But, here in outer East Portland, a more low-key event was taking place the same day, as the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Memorial Service got underway promptly at 1:00 p.m.

The Color Guard, from the Multnomah County Sheriffs Office, Portland Police Bureau, Clackamas County Sheriffs Office, Clark County Shares Office, and Gresham Police Department, marched in – signaling the start of the ceremony.

Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Deputies Rachael Wheeler and Deputy Norma Gaines prepare to post the colors, and lower our nation’s flag to half mast.

All uniformed personnel salute, as the flag of the United States of America is raised.

The service got underway as MCSO Deputy Clyde Bagley, sang The National Anthem, followed by an invocation by Chaplain Ed Stelle.

“We’re here today honoring those who have fallen while in service to their community,” said Multnomah County Sheriff Daniel Staton, as he began is brief remarks. “We’re honoring those in the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, and other law enforcement agencies, countrywide.

Multnomah County Sheriff Daniel Staton tells why they honor their fallen comrades.

“It is important to recognize those who have served the community, and given their life in the protection of the community and their families, and schools,” Staton continued. “They’ve dedicated their lives to service; it is important that we remember that fact.”

Then Sheriff Staton placed a ceremonial wreath at the monument outside, in front of the Hanson building.

A family member of slain Reserve Deputy Mark Whitehead – killed by a drunk driver while on patrol in 1993 – prepares to hang the memorial ribbon, during the Reading of the Roll.

As MCSO personnel held their banner forward, pointed like a spear, Chief Deputy Tim Moore offered the “Reading of the Roll” – the list of those from their office who had lost their lives while in service.

After Portland Police Bureau Highland Guard bagpiper Sgt. Brian Kelly played “Amazing Grace” and Captain Drew Brosch sang “God Bless America”, the flag-folding ceremony began.

The seven-step United States flag-folding ceremony nears completion.

A rectangular folded United States Flag was unfolded by six men in uniform, and then carefully folded into the shape of a tri-cornered hat, emblematic of the hats worn by colonial soldiers during the war for Independence.

In the folding, the red and white stripes are finally wrapped into the blue, “as the light of day vanishes into the darkness of night”.

The seven members of the Honor Guard, comprised of officers representing all law enforcement agencies in the area, offer up a 21-gun salute, with each firing three rounds.

MCSO Corrections Division Chief Deputy Carol Hasler offers unscripted, heartfelt closing remarks.

After Taps was bugled, MCSO Chief Deputy Carol Hasler stepped to the podium and reminded those present, “The tradition of a law enforcement officer’s badge or shield has its origin in medieval times, with a sword and shield.  It is the reason why the badge is worn on the left, because it is to shield the heart.

“Thus, the badge is both a historical and thematic connection between the medieval idea of defending your king, government, country – and the duty taken on by a law enforcement officer to protect his or her community. We take up the sword and shield, metaphorically speaking, as part of our daily lives.

“We take this time to honor those who have fallen. We honor those who work every day in every regional, state, county, federal, and local municipal law enforcement office – including those who work behind the scenes.”

As the moving ceremony concludes, the honor guard stands, emblematic of how today’s police officers stand on guard for the citizens of the community.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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