ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) – Every May 15, dating back to the Kennedy administration, the nation recognizes Peace Officers Memorial Day.
Thursday night, the Athens Police Department did its part to honor those who died in the line of duty in Limestone County.
Officers and loved ones gathered at the courthouse for a candlelight vigil and a brief but meaningful ceremony.
A prayer was followed by a moment of silence for the nine officers on the county’s Law Enforcement Memorial.
“We want to remember them,” said Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson. “We want to honor them. We want to show their families that we continuously are going to come back and we’re going to remember those men.”
Benton McLemore was one of those nine.
His daughter, Bobbie Wilson was 29-years-old when her father was shot and killed while making a welfare check and 45 years later she still appreciates the support.
“Just to know that the city remembers my father and what all he did,” said Wilson, “it just means a lot to us.”
The names on the memorial serve as a constant reminder of the price paid to protect the community.
“I always go back and think of the day that we lost two officers in one day,” said Chief Johnson. “I never left home again without telling my family, ‘I love you.’”
Sergeant Larry Wayne Russell and officer Tony Mims were shot and killed while responding to a 911 call on January 2, 2004.
It has been more than ten years since an officer made the ultimate sacrifice in Limestone County, but it is a risk current officers live with every single day.