An event honoring law enforcement officers who have fallen in the line of duty was held on the Cleburne County Courthouse lawn Monday afternoon. The event was part of the National Law Enforcement Memorial Day event held in communities around the country.
After the posting of colors by the Arkansas Sheriff's Association Honor Guard, Cleburne County Sheriff Chris Brown welcomed the crowd and talked about the importance of law enforcement and the important contributions made by its officers to the communities they serve.
"On the surface, we’re here to honor those officers that have been killed in the line of duty, but on a deeper level, we’re here to be with family, to comfort each other, to lift each other up, and to show each other that loved ones are not forgotten," said Brown. "We are here to remember, for just a brief moment, that what we do is dangerous. And we are here to remember that what we do is important. "
"So, we will take this brief moment, and we’ll remember, and then we’ll return once more to that work that has claimed so many of our brothers and sisters," he continued. "Because we don’t have the luxury of simply walking away. Because there is too much at stake. Because there is work to be done. Because where no law exists, there is chaos. We will press on. This morning, men and women all over the world woke up and left their homes to stand in the gap for you and for me. And for some of them, it may be the last time they ever see their home or their family again. We are here to reassure our family, our blue family, and our community family, that we will persevere, that we will not give up, that we will faithfully continue to carry out our tasks after we lay our brothers and sisters to rest and say, 'Rest in peace, we’ll take watch from here.'"
In closing, Brown issued a challenge to law enforcement.
"I want to issue a challenge to all of our law enforcement today," he said. "1 Corinthians 4:2 says, 'Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.' We are stewards. Public servants. It is required of us to be faithful. God calls people to be police officers. People depend on us to be faithful, to carry out those duties which we have sworn to uphold. My challenge to you is to be faithful to your calling. See it through, give it everything you’ve got, leave it all on the field. We’re all human, and we will fail. And failure is okay. And in those instances when we get knocked down, we have to choose, do we accept defeat, or do we remain faithful. Get back up, learn from your failures, and be faithful to your calling."
Brown then introduced Mary Carmikle to read the names of the officers that have fallen in the line of duty around the country this year. Carmikle is the widow of Sergeant Monty Carmikle of Arkansas Game & Fish, who fell in the line of duty in 2008.
Congressman Ed Bethune followed Carmikle with a story comparing the values of larger metropolitan areas with those of small communities. Bethune was Congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1979 to 1985, as well as an attorney and former FBI agent. He issued a challenge to communities to keep the culture of 'disrespect' he attributed to larger cities from taking root in smaller communities.
The ceremony ended with retiring of colors by the Arkansas Sheriff's Association Honor Guard.