Residents, supporters, community leaders and elected officials recently joined voices with Missouri City’s men and women in blue to salute the bravery of officers who have paid the ultimate price to protect citizens nationwide.
The 7th Annual Police Officer Memorial Ceremony began with an “Amazing Grace” bagpipe serenade by David Miller of St. Thomas Episcopal School, the presentation of colors by the Police Honor Guard, a touching performance of the “National Anthem” by Ridge Point High School student Brianna James, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the invocation by Pastor Charles Murphy, who asked guests to “keep these officers and their families in your prayers.” Old Glory waved above the crowd, jointly hoisted high by Missouri City and Stafford Fire trucks.
Although Missouri City has been fortunate to have not lost an officer in the line of duty, the Police Department recognized two former officers who have passed with the presentation of police badges to their families.
Assistant Police Chief Keith Jemison paid tribute to their families and asked three officers who knew Sgt. Andrew Svoboda and Officer Damien Buckner to present their parents—Danny and Beverly Svoboda and Clifton and Cathy Williams—with police badges “as a memento from our department and our family.” A crystal plaque that displays their names will be located inside Public Safety Headquarters.
Also during the observance, Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald noted that 163 officers nationwide paid the ultimate sacrifice in 2011; 22 were from Texas. In honor of their service, he shared a roll call of their names, including Deputy John Norsworthy, who worked with the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office. Norsworthy’s name, along with those of the other law-enforcement officers who died will be inscribed in memoriam on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. Fitzgerald told guests that “danger is part of our jobs. We know that when we sign up. However, when one of ours is tragically taken away, it reinforces these harsh realities that are our assumed responsibilities.”
On behalf of City Council, Mayor Allen Owen presented Fitzgerald with a proclamation that recognized the week of May 13 through May 19 as “National Police Week” and May 16 as “Peace Officers’ Memorial Day” in Missouri City. “We’re very fortunate to have not lost an officer in the line of duty,” he shared. “Every day these men and women don’t know if they will be coming back to see their family that night and we’re here to say ‘thank you’ to those who risk their lives every day.” Owen also called attention to the pavers that line the Protector’s Plaza at Public Safety Headquarters and urged residents to purchase one in memory of a loved one.
The commemoration also included the presentation of the wreath and the lighting of a candle in front of Protector’s Statute by Mayor Owen and Capt. Brandon Harris. The candle symbolizes the eternal flame that burns for all officers who have died in the line of duty. The lighting was followed by a 21-gun salute by the Missouri City Honor Guard and a mournful rendition of taps by Ridge Point High School student Kyle McBroom.
After closing remarks and a closing prayer that included local Boy Scout Pack 282, the Missouri City Police Officers Association gifted a plaque to Johnny and Doris Spencer, owners of JSB & Associates, for their generous donation of sod and grass to beautify and enhance Protector’s Plaza. The Spencers’ son, Derrick, who serves on the force, accepted the plaque on their behalf.