September 30, 2007, was a brisk fall
day. The trees had turned a delightful shade of golden yellow and the
sun shone on the legislature grounds. The sky was a wonderful blue and
while the air was crisp, it felt fitting of the moment.
The ninth annual Police and Peace
Officer Memorial Day ceremony was an interesting day for me. I had
thought about attending a few weeks prior to the event, but with the
hustle of daily life, I considered skipping it. But I’m glad I didn’t.
The ceremony was a somber one, with
the legislature grounds filled with officers from across Alberta. It’s
something to see that many officers together in one place, paying their
respects to fallen comrades.
The Pillar of Strength stands strong on the
legislature grounds, displaying the names of 93 officers killed in the
line of duty since 1876. Standing by the monument sends shivers up my
spine. It’s not the names of fallen officers inscribed on the pillar
that takes my breath away, as much as the empty spots, the outlines that
are there for names that may be added in the future.
The ceremony started with the parade of
officers into the ceremony site. Starting the parade were officers on
motorcycles, followed by the Massed Pipes and Drums of Alberta. Behind
them the officers. Nestled between the scarlet serges and the blue
tunics of other police agencies in Alberta, were four Alberta Fish and
Wildlife officers dressed in their number one uniforms; shoes polished,
forage caps on straight and proud. Cliché as it is to say, it did bring
a tear to my eye as I watched them march past.
The officers marched onto the grounds
and stood proud during the entire ceremony. The event was about an hour
long. After opening remarks and a prayer by the RCMP chaplain, the names
of the fallen officers were read. Ninety-three names take a long time to
be read, and as I heard the names, I thought about the families that
lost a brother or a sister, a mother or a father, a son or a daughter. A
moment of silence followed the reading of names. Following the moment of
silence was the laying of the wreaths. Fish and Wildlife Officer Richard
Lyons was there to lay the wreath on behalf of Alberta Sustainable
For me, the most poignant moment of
the ceremony was the march past. All officers that had been standing on
the grounds marched out and around and then past the families and
dignitaries. It’s an amazing event to see them, four abreast, each
marching in time, the clack of steps on the pavement.
It made me think once again about the
family of Fish and Wildlife officers. Our group of officers, spread
across the province, is like a family. They went to college together, or
trained together, or worked alongside each other. And they really are a
fraternity, a brotherhood, a group of men and women who believe in
something and are standing up each day working to protect our fish and
wildlife resources. These men and women can sometimes find themselves in
dangerous situations. Fish and Wildlife officers can guarantee that
while conducting hunter or angler checks, they will be in close
proximity to people who have firearms or other dangerous weapons in
their possession. Through training, officers learn the best way to
protect themselves in any given situation.
To date, no Alberta Fish and Wildlife
officer has had their name inscribed on the Pillar of Strength, and I
for one am praying that it stays that way.
Kimberly Lougheed-Kain is a member of the
Fish and Wildlife Division in Edmonton.