Hopewell Moose Lodge and CHPD host annual memorial breakfast

HOPEWELL — Hundreds of law enforcement officers and family members gathered at the Hopewell Moose Lodge on Thursday for the 24th Annual Tri-Cities Law Enforcement Memorial Breakfast.

The event honors officers from Colonial Heights, Prince George, Fort Lee, Hopewell, Petersburg and Dinwiddie who have fallen in the line of duty.

Del. Kirk Cox (R-66th), Speaker of the House of Delegates, was the guest speaker for this year’s event.

“It’s always hard to give a speech like this because your thanks seems so inadequate,” he said to the family members of the fallen officers. “Trying to come up with the right words to thank you, you always feel like you fall short. Please know that everyone in this room is so grateful to you for your sacrifice.”

This year’s ceremony is the first to honor Virginia State Police Troopers Jay Cullen III and Berke Bates, who passed away in a helicopter accident while monitoring the protests in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017. Cox recalled attending both of their funerals this past year.

“What was so unique about them was just what they meant to the community ... for example, there was a whole youth hockey team there," Cox said. "That was because, obviously, one of the officers had coached that hockey team. You listen to just what happened, they’re involved with the community, how much they loved their community, how much they loved flying helicopters, how they were going to be the best.

“What I think is so unique about all the folks in this room is how much you love your community and how much you’ve gone beyond just being an officer, and I can’t thank you enough for that, because the example you’ve set — sometimes you don’t even know.”

Twenty-six candles sat next to framed photos of fallen officers on a long table in the front of the room. During the ceremony, a designated officer from each department read the name of a fallen officer, the date of their passing and the circumstances surrounding their final watch, while a candle was lit in their memory.

Family members of the fallen were escorted to the front table by Honor Guard members for the candle lighting.

“In your profession, every traffic stop, every time [a school resource officer] goes into a school, every time there is a burglary, etc., you put your life on the line, and that’s every day, 24 hours a day,” Cox said. “I think people that are not in that profession just have no idea, and I can’t imagine for the families. So often, you just wait for your loved one to come home. For that, I thank you so much.”

After the candle lighting, members of the Virginia State Police Pipes and Drums performed “Amazing Grace," and a member of the 392nd Army Band followed with “Taps.”

“Thank you, families, for sharing the time with us,” said Colonial Heights Chief of Police Jeff Faries at the conclusion of the ceremony. “I still believe this is the best profession in the world, of serving others. And the time that your loved one served their community is so greatly appreciated.”

Kate Gibson may be reached at kgibson@progress-index.com or (804) 722-5162.