County remembers fallen law enforcement officers during annual ceremony
By Don Coble
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Twelve yellow roses were placed, one by one, in front of …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Twelve yellow roses were placed, one by one, in front of photographs of 12 Clay County law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty last week at Spring Park.
The annual Police Memorial Ceremony brought families, law enforcement agencies, city and county officials and dozens of former first responders to pay homage to the men who gave the ultimate sacrifice to keep county residents safe.
Keynote speaker Pastor Tim Martin was a former patrol deputy, sergeant, lieutenant, detective and SWAT team member with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. He brought insight into the dangers officers face every day.
“This is a calling,” Martin said. “There's a calling to the gospel ministry. There is a calling to law enforcement. It's just not a job. It's just not a profession. It's not something that you just want to do. This is a calling that's not performed from a sense of arrogance or power, but strictly from a sense of duty. It's always been that way, and it's that way today.”
The memorial gained two fallen officers since last year’s ceremony. Green Cove Springs Police Chief was added to the program after he died of COVID-19 last September, while Clay County Sheriff’s Office deputy Clint Seagle died of the virus last August.
Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Eric Twisdale also died of COVID-19 complications in 2020.
“The continued danger of COVID was ever-present with 301 COVID deaths (in Florida), an increase of 65% over 2020,” Martin said. “This agency has lost several in the last several years. But true to their calling, these heroes didn't shy away from contact from those that they were they were assisting or they were investigating or they were arresting. Not in the least. They leaned further into their calling, without regard for their own safety. They leaned into it to ensure that the job was done and it was done correctly.
“You see it doesn't matter the color or the style of uniform that's worn only they served with pride and honor and integrity. What further matters is they were brothers and sisters. In a law enforcement family, this is a family they were serving wherever needed from the most affluent neighborhoods to the dirtiest of alleys. They were confident they were proud. They were highly honored by the people's trust. They carry badges, mindful of our assigned duties.”
Martin spoke before family members or a deputy approached the display honoring all 12 fallen deputies and officers. The sheriff’s office’s Honor Guard continued the tribute with a 21-gun salute, followed by the playing of “Taps,” the folding of the flag by the Green Cove Springs Honor Guard, a flyover by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the somber display of a riderless horse from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
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