BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - "They stood in the line of fire, so that others may live." That was one of the most poignant messages shared at a Memorial Service in Biloxi Wednesday.
The Biloxi Police Department honored the memories of four of its fallen officers: Officer David Higginbotham, Officer Emery Wilson, Lt. Michael Meaut, Animal Control Officer Nathan Mitchell.
A ceremony on the steps of the Lopez-Quave Public Safety Center honored the service and sacrifice of officers who died doing what they loved. The service took on a more somber tone, in the wake of recent shootings that took the lives of two officers in Hattiesburg.
"They choose to walk the path of fear, hate and mistrust taken by so few, but marked by so many," Major Jim Adamo read from the poem "The Thin Blue Line."
For the families they left behind, the pain is still raw. Carol Beaulier's brother, David Higginbotham, was killed in June of 1972.
"Especially when the anniversary is coming up and knowing how much he loved the police department and how he would do anything for anybody, that's what gets us through," she said.
Beaulier joined others in praying for the families of two Hattiesburg officers, Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate, who were gunned down over the weekend.
"It's so fresh. We've been grieving. Theirs is new and it's a long process, something you never get over," said Beaulier. "You want to go to them and tell them it doesn't get any easier, but they died doing something they wanted to do. They died protecting other people."
"It's rough. Real, real rough to know what their wives went through, what I went through," said Jean Wilson, who lost her husband, Emery Wilson, in 1970.
Biloxi's police chief had some strong words for those who tarnish the image of law enforcement officers by portraying them as the bad guys.
"These tactics are simply disrespectful to every cop that's given his life or her life for the safety of their community, and equally disrespectful to the families of those heroes," said Chief John Miller.
The chief said he is grateful for the support in Biloxi for the men and women who answer the call, regardless of the cost.
"It's so important for the community to keep us safe and know we can sleep well at night and they're taking care of us," said Mary Morgan of Biloxi.
The visitation service for one of the officers shot and killed in Hattiesburg, Benjamin Deen, took place Wednesday night. The Church of the Redeemer will hold a memorial service for all fallen officers at its Biloxi beach front property on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.