SAN JOSE – Letti Smith with the Santa Clara Sheriffs Pipes and Drums performs at several events throughout the year. Smith said, “We are performing today for the police memorial service.” As the group stood waiting for the services to begin. Bag pipes and snare drums were heard throughout the gathering crowd as the 17-member band welcomed officers, friends, and family that had come to celebrate the San Jose Police department’s 19th Annual Police Memorial and Flag Ceremony.
The police administration building was surrounded with fire fighters, police officers, media, and city officials who had come to join the event.
The San Jose Fire Chief William McDonald joined the top brass as Acting Chief Larry Esquivel, Acting Deputy Jeff Marozick, Police Officer’s Association President Sgt. Jim Unland, and the San Jose City Mayor Chuck Reed.joined the commemoration.
The ceremony supports the eleven-fallen officers dating back to the early 1920’s when San Jose experienced their first loss due to violent crime.
The wife of Bob Wirht, #1596 who was lost on September 8, 1988 when he was struck by a motorist while in pursuit of a speeding car said, “The police department is here to honor their fallen officers.” Wirht said, “The celebration carries on their memory and good works.”
The department prepares for family members to participate in the event by joining those that served as full-time and reserve police officers provided by the department, such as the Keith Kelly Dance and the National Night Out celebrated in August.
Delia Webb, a volunteer with the Court Liaison Unit said, “I think it is great the memorial service was held here.”
Webb said, “We just had to come from the office. We didn’t have to drive to find parking. There is plenty of parking here.”
Kathy Scott who also works as a Court Liaison with the San Jose Police Department said, “I think it is wonderful.” Scott said, “I couldn’t think of a more appropriate site.”
The service was the first memorial service held at the San Jose Police Department.
The Deputy Chief of Field Operations Jeff Marozick said, “We are here to honor our fallen officers.” Marozick said, “During the past and present for those that gave the ultimate sacrifice protecting our community.”
The celebration brought together 164-years of tradition and symbolism used in the commemoration fallen officers. The National Anthem as well as the playing of bagpipes filled the small parking area with pride and enduring sentiment shared by each officer attending the ceremony
The Color Guard entered the small square as Council Members Pete Constance, Pieriluigi Oliverio, Kansen Chu, Xavier Campos, Ash Kalra, Johnny Khamis, Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen and City of San Jose’s Independent Police Auditor LaDoris Cordell watched on as a call for radio silence was issued as officers bowed their heads for a single minute allowing all radio channels to fall silent.
The family of the eleven-fallen officers were seated near the staging area, as large black and white photos were placed proudly as the Color Guard saluted each officer after the ringing of the bell with the calling of their name, and description of how they were killed in the line of duty.
Marozick continued to speak to the crowd ensuring that everyday officers face the risk of putting themselves against those who wish to do harm to them and their community.
San Jose’s Mayor Chuck Reed thanked the men and women for their service and for their sacrifice and for those who also serve our community.
Acting Chief Esquivel said, “We have come here to commemorate former members of the SJPD police force and family members.” Esquivel said, “Sworn officers made this commitment that it may require the ultimate sacrifice. We are here honoring their memory today. We will never forget.”
POA President Sgt. Jim Unland said, “Tolling of the bell is a way of informing the community about the death. Unland said, “This makes us think about our own mortality.”
The theme of the ceremony focused on the two Santa Cruz police officers who were tragically gunned down in March of this year. Unland said, “The human spirit is strong and able to challenge adversity and turn it into a goal to continue to do their good work.”
The ceremony ended with the placing of the wreath near the center flag pole as each flag was lowered to half staff as a Taps trumpet solo echoed through the crowd.
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the hills, from the lake,
From the sky.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.
Go to sleep, peaceful sleep,
May the soldier or sailor,
On the land or the deep,
Safe in sleep.
Love, good night, Must thou go,
When the day, And the night
Need thee so?
All is well. Speedeth all
To their rest.
Fades the light; And afar
Goeth day, And the stars
Fare thee well; Day has gone,
Night is on.
Thanks and praise, For our days,
‘Neath the sun, ‘Neath the stars,
‘Neath the sky,
As we go, This we know,
God is nigh.