BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - When talking about the number of fallen law enforcement officers, Reverend Dr. Harold Roberts of the Church of the Redeemer said that, unfortunately, it's quite a long list. Sunday afternoon, Roberts and officers from agencies across the Coast joined with friends and family to remember those officers, and say thank you.
"If you never say thank you, people don't know they are appreciated. If policing agencies don't know they are appreciated, they tend to lose spirit. So, this is something to encourage and build up the morale of the policing agencies," said Roberts.
"It goes very deep. A good many of the officers on the list I remember, and I worked with. Some of them trained me when I was a rookie, and it helps you keep those people in your mind and your prayers," said Biloxi Police Chief John Miller.
Underneath the former dome of the church, the crowd listened to the names of those killed in the line of duty, names that included National Park Ranger Robert McGee Jr., Biloxi Police Officer Mike Meaut, and Jackson County Sheriff Deputy Benny Bryant.
"It's always important to remember the police officers who have gone before us, those who have died in the line of duty. Hopefully, it gives everybody a sense of appreciation for public safety in general," said Gulfport Deputy Chief Leonard Papania.
At the reading of each name, roses were placed on crosses, and prayers were said for all the agencies. One prayer shared, was one written by fallen officer Mike Meaut. It read:
"God, it's Mike. Well, I'm at work again, and I need your help to make it through the day. Father, help me remember that: I'm out there to help, not to hurt. I'm out there to love, not to hate. I'm out there to defend, not to punish. Father, I'm weak, strengthen my will. Remind me daily in my patrol car that my brothers and sisters are also hurting. Help me to help at least one person today. Your friend, Mike."
"We wear different patches, but we all serve for the same reason. And, it is a community of law enforcement on the Coast," said Papania.
The Church of the Redeemer hosts the memorial each year as a part of Police Appreciation Week.