2011-11-30 / Editorial & Columns

Lost Lawman Memorial

Behind the Badge
By Larry G. Spence

I was going to write about our trip to Austin last week, but it was Thanksgiving week and I needed to remind everyone to be thankful for all we have received. I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and time with family and friends. On November 17 I made a trip to Austin for the Lost Lawman Memorial ceremony at the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas Headquarters at 1601 South I-35.

These ceremonies used to be held every year but a few years back it was changed to every two years. It has been my honor and privilege to take part in three of these memorial ceremonies. This particular ceremony honors Sheriffs, Deputies, or jailers who have been killed in the line of duty serving their Sheriffs’ Office and their perspective counties. Sixteen more names were added to the black granite wall that morning, most of whom had died over the past two years, while a few had died decades earlier. There is a group at the Association that researches state history to find the names of any fallen lawmen who weren’t on the wall. Most of these names will be added to the memorial on the Capitol grounds and also to the national memorial in Washington D.C.

Executive Director of the Sheriffs’ Association Steve Westbrook welcomed the crowd and told a little history about the Lost Lawman Memorial Wall, and Association President, Sheriff J.W. Jankowski of Washington County spoke words of encouragement to those assembled. The keynote speaker, Kathy J. Hill of National Concerns of Police Sur- vivors, herself a survivor, her husband having been killed in the line of duty, gave an inspiring speech that touched the hearts of all those present. Curtis Clay, Deputy Director of Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University in San Marcos had opened by singing the National Anthem and he then came back after the keynote speaker and sang “Amazing Grace.”

As Chaplain I opened with the invocation and now I assisted Sheriff Jankowski with the reading of the 16 new names added to the wall. Then a large wreath was placed near the memorial wall and the families were given an opportunity to place flowers near the names of their loved ones. All this was followed by a 21 gun salute and the playing of taps. I closed with the benediction and then everyone went inside for refreshments and fellowship. All in all it was one of the best “Lost Lawman” ceremonies I’ve had the pleasure of being a participant. You look at the names, you watch the families, and you think, this could very well be my family sitting here, and your heart goes out to them. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those in law enforcement for their dedicated service. Willacy County does have one name on this wall, Deputy Louis May who was added to the wall in 2007 and was killed September 5, 1926. He along with others killed from Willacy County are on the Capitol Monument and the National Monument as well. The total number of names now on our memorial is at 494, far too many!

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