With the families of Memphis Police officers Tim Warren and Martoiya Lang in attendance, a solemn ceremony honoring officers killed in the line of duty was held at Memphis City Hall on Friday.
The annual occasion was a reminder of the daily sacrifices those who choose law enforcement as a career are willing to make.
They are the droplets in a trail of tears that began 148 years ago, with the death of Officer W.C. Stockman. Sixty-one men and one woman have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Rain forced the annual Memphis Police Law Enforcement Memorial Service to hold most of its ceremonies inside city council chambers.
Perhaps, it was the rain which accounted for the many empty seats that could have been filled by a grateful public. Yet, those who were there came with not only heavy hearts, but appreciation for those who choose to serve in one of America's most dangerous professions.
"To get up every single morning and come to a profession where you know, you just don't know, what's going to happen that day and more importantly, you don't know if you're going to return to the same home and the same loved ones you just left," said Police Director Toney Armstrong.
"I've talked to families after these things have occurred and you would think they'd have a negative image toward police officers and law enforcement as a whole," he added. "But, it's been just the opposite. We have to accept this. We have to accept the fact that my love one died doing exactly what they wanted to do - serving."
On this gray May day once more the bagpipes played, the gunshots of salute echoed from outside, and the sea of blue lit the path for heroes who've taken the final rides on that trail of tears; a trail which is sadly nowhere near its end.