Alabama Sheriffs Memorial Wall Unveiling
December 30, 2020
A year like no other...Who would disagree? In a year which has seen polarized views in opposition to one another on events, topics, and circumstance.
At least we can reach consensus on one thing... a year like no other.
We have seen the best in many, the worst in some - but, through it all, we have witnessed unyielding belief by the majority of a group that is a small segment of our population - a belief that right should win, that truth is important, that justice has meaning and purpose. They are our peace officers. They wear blue, brown, green, grey, tan & white, black... and some just plain clothes. They have a badge, shield, or star on their chest. They are fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters. They are us. We are them.
There is also a certain part of the group that holds a special place - they are placed in position not by appointment or committee, but by the people. They are the Sheriffs. No other position in public safety is quite like that of Sheriff. He or she is not just a law officer. They are part of the fabric and foundation of the community they serve. If anyone has any doubt about that, I offer you may ask anyone in Lowndes County how they felt on November 23, 2019, when a good and decent man - their Sheriff - was taken from them. Fabric and foundation personified. The yoke of tremendous responsibility rests on their shoulders. Every. Single. Day. While it is true that they have many partners with shared mission, it is the Sheriff who often faces difficult decisions that only he or she must make and be held accountable in outcome. Their task is the product of a position over a thousand years in evolution with a history rich in tradition and purpose. There have been positives and negatives through the centuries. There is good and bad with any endeavor attempted by human hand and spirit. Despite it all, the Sheriffs have been a critical component in our system of justice - numbering only around 3,000 in a nation of 340 million, our Sheriffs deserve our respect and gratitude for their efforts on our behalf.
Respect. What brings us here today. To honor and respect a group of Sheriffs, who each were called upon in the line of duty and demonstrated by action, at the cost of their very lives. Twenty men who were entrusted with a position that commands their every waking moment - a status of always on duty - who sacrificed the Almighty's gift of life service to others. No human action is of higher noble cause. It is right that we honor them this way. At first view, it may be just names on two sheets of bronze attached to a wall of brick. But gaze long and deep - for the sum of these parts is greater than the whole. We honor not only these Sheriffs but also the families left behind to carry on. They, too, deserve our honor and respect for sharing their loved one with us. May these panels be always washed in the light of the sun and these Sheriffs' names always be associated with support for the rule of law - lest we forget.