Honoring the fallen: Chatham County’s law enforcement memorial

Pittsboro, NC – In a ceremony held Tuesday, May 9, the Chatham County law enforcement community came together to honor the memory of the brave men and women who lost their lives while serving and protecting their communities in 2022.

Chatham County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard presents colors and a performance of the National Anthem sung by Beverly Goldston (left).

The Police Memorial Ceremony, held at the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center in Pittsboro, honored the sacrifices that 11 North Carolina law enforcement officers (two of them K-9 officers) made in the line of duty last year and recognized the dangers that all officers face every day.

Attending the ceremony were Sheriff’s Office personnel and officers from the Pittsboro and Siler City police departments and N.C. Highway Patrol, as well as other members of the community.

“Every year in May,” said Sheriff Mike Roberson, “we fly our American flag at half-staff in grateful memory of thousands of fallen police officers. This year we pay special tribute to the North Carolina men and women whose names will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. We do so with enormous respect and appreciation for the courage and character of all who have answered the call to be a law enforcement officer.”

The names of the 11 North Carolina officers who died while serving were read aloud by Chief Mike Wagner of the Siler City Police Department. Pittsboro Police Chief Shorty Johnson read a poem called “Many Hats and a Heavy Crown,” observing the many responsibilities officers undertake in their effort “to take care of everybody.”

Addressing the officers in attendance, Sheriff Roberson acknowledged their “serious commitment and responsibility to serve others. You face down the dangers. You literally put yourselves between the innocent and the guilty. And you go into places of turmoil and aggression, thinking only of those in need. Thank you for your sacrifices.”

Keynote speaker for the program was Chaplain Mark Agan, pastor of Siler City’s Community Baptist Church and official Chaplain of the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office since 2016.

“One of the things I’ve learned is that the average person doesn’t fully appreciate the difficult, unique situations that law enforcement officers find themselves in on a daily basis,” Agan said. “There are a lot of heroes in our world, but I don’t think there are any heroes greater than our first responders, those who put their lives on the line every day. Sadly, as we are noting on this occasion, one day was their last day. It was their last day to put on their uniform; their last day to get in their patrol car; their last day to hug their family goodbye. For them, all we have left is their memory.”

The ceremony, Agan said, served not only as a reminder of the risks and sacrifices that law enforcement officers make every day, but also of the importance of supporting them in their mission to protect and serve their communities. “One of the best ways we can honor those who are gone is to use their lives as a motivation to us to keep going, to keep putting on the badge, to keep serving, to keep protecting, and to keep doing good.”

The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the start of the program and concluded with a performance of taps in honor of fallen officers.