Coast Memorials Honor Fallen Heroes

This is not the first time Moss Point Police Chief Michael Ricks has had to light a candle for a fallen officer, and unfortunately it will not be his last.

"It's a joy and a sadness. It's a joy of the many Americans that go out and put their life on the line to make sure that we are free in this great country and it's a sadness of the comrades and the brothers that we've lost in the line of duty just trying to protect the citizens of America," Ricks said.

Officers, family and friends gathered at the Church of the Redeemer in Biloxi to remember those officers who sacrificed their lives for the good of the community.

"There are times when I think we sometimes have less than good confidence in our policing agencies. Today we've heard the costs that too many people have paid for our protection," Church of the Redeemer minister Harold Roberts said.

And one of those officers was Highway Patrolman David Bruce Ladner.

Family and friends gathered at Ladner's grave site in Lyman. Officer Ladner was shot to death during a routine traffic stop in 1987, and Sunday's memorial was the first service since Ladner's killer was executed.

Ladner's son Brandon was among the many officers paying tribute to a hero who was part of that "thin blue line".

"It's real comforting to know that everybody after all these years still remembers and still cares and still takes the time to show their feelings and appreciation," Ladner said.

It's customary that when an officer has fallen in the line of duty, only the finest step up to continue the legacy of service and protection.

Hundreds continue to answer that call.

Twenty-six law enforcement officers in South Mississippi have died in the line of duty since 1900. And according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 147 officers nationwide died in the line of duty last year.