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Gulfport ceremony immortalizes fallen officers

The Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony in Gulfport is as important for those performing it as it is for those receiving it.
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 4:48 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony in Gulfport is as important for those performing it as it is for those receiving it.

“I remember I was 10 years old when he died, and it affects me the same every year,” said Kristie Spraberry, niece of Officer Woodrow Wayne Scarborough, who died May 5, 1970. “It just touches that place in your heart...it’s good to remember, because it’s been so long ago that people forget. But we never have forgotten.”

Gulfport’s Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony drew family members, friends and first responders to the Robert J. Curry Public Safety Center, named after Curry, who was killed on Aug. 14, 2008.

“Every time we have this ceremony, it’s very poignant...” said Chief Adam Cooper. “...and it really means a lot to me because yesterday, we were looking toward the future and today we’re remembering the past of how we go into the future. We don’t go into the future without our past.”

For some, the memorial service opens old wounds.

However, it’s different for Rita Ladner, sister of Joe Spiers who was killed while on duty in 1971.

“I know it’s hard for my sister because she says it’s kind of like going through the funeral all over again,” she said. “But to me it’s more about honoring them and making sure they’re not forgotten.”

Ladner wants to remember the best of her brother, who earned two purple hearts in Vietnam.

“He got a job as a teenager and he would use his money to buy Christmas presents his six brothers and sisters,” she said.

She said those who have the watch now deserve and need community support.

“We appreciate all of the officers and what they do for us and how they risk their life for us and how much everyone should appreciate them.”

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