UPPER PROVIDENCE — Dozens of police officers who died in the line of duty were honored for their service Wednesday morning, with some being recognized over 100 years after their end of watch.
Uniformed officers from all over the county and beyond met at the Delaware County Law Enforcement Memorial at Rose Tree Park for the memorial foundation's 22nd annual Day of Remembrance Ceremony. This yearly event gathered over 100 officers, survivors and county officials to pay their respects for more than officers, their deaths ranging from 1902 to 2013, and affecting numerous law enforcement agencies from the county’s Park Police, Delaware State Police, Upper Chichester Police Department and as far out as Lancaster City Police Department.
“Today we stand together to remember and honor those brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting our community,” said county council Chairman John McBlain, standing in solidarity with the four other members of council. “We honor those 43 men and women whose names are etched into this memorial. We will always remember their service and sacrifice.
“We are very thankful that no new names were added this year and we continue to pray for your safety.”
Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun Copeland choked up recalling her memories of Chester City Police Cpl. Michael Beverly, who died in October 2001 when she was an assistant district attorney. He was the first officer she knew who died in the line of duty.
“And this day, this sad, cloudy day that I’m very proud to share with you, he holds a deep, inalienable place in my heart, and in this we gathered to remember Michael and all of the men and women who have died in the line of duty,” she said. “I ask you, all of you, to wing a prayer skyward for Michael Beverly, for all of our brethren who are on the move toward the greater good, who strode inexhaustibly toward honor and doing the right thing.
“I know that day in and day out while we can sleep peacefully in our homes,” she added, “you, our brave men and women in law enforcement. protect us and leave the sanctity of your own homes … you put your lives in danger to insure ours. That is the very definition of a hero.”
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, 40 officers have been killed throughout the United States so far this year. None were in Pennsylvania. Approximately 170 officers have died in each of the last few years, according to the site.
Wednesday’s ceremony included the laying off a wreath by members of the Philadelphia Police Department, officers laying a hat down for each of the officers at their stanchions, and survivors laying roses down at their loved ones’ markers.
As the names are clearly marked honoring those who have passed, there is at least one unsung hero who does not have his own stanchion.
Retired Springfield Police Lt. Bill Clark is trying to find more information about the death of Chester Police Officer James McDade who died in 1903, 18 years after he was shot during a burglary in progress. The bullet stayed in his leg and may have contributed to his death, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. He said a death certificate for McDade could not be found and he is trying to locate any of his descendants for more information. Clark looks to have McDade added to the memorial per the foundation’s criteria.