ELIZABETHTOWN — Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy, Bladen County law enforcement and the community came together Wednesday to pay respects to those who have lost their lives in the line of duty, as well as those past and present officers who have and are serving.
The ceremony, held in the fellowship hall at Elizabethtown Baptist Church, was the fifth for Paul R. Brown and first for the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office.
“We are honored that Sheriff Jim McVicker asked that we include our ceremony with theirs,” said Commander of Cadets Carl Lloyd of Paul R. Brown. Lloyd also served as the emcee for the event.
Together, those gathered recognized five Bladen County men who have fallen in the line of duty — Bladenboro Chief Roy Franklin Fores, end of watch Sept. 3, 1967; Elizabethtown Chief Marvin James Bell, end of watch Sept. 30, 1972; Police Officer Brian Joe Ramey, end of watch May 12, 2001; Bladen County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Collins, end of watch Sept. 26, 2001; and Bladen County Sheriff’s Deputy Dewayne Charles Hester, end of watch June 8, 2012.
Following a number of military rituals by cadets from Paul R. Brown, Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons spoke about the sacrifices and commitments made by those who serve in law enforcement, especially those who have fallen — and how the community they serve should honor them.
“We should re-double our efforts to make sure those heroes are never forgotten,” he said. “And I also share in their family’s grief.
“I hope and pray no more will fall,” he added before paraphrasing President Abraham Lincoln from his Gettysburg Address. “‘It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this’ to honor those fallen heroes.”
Directly to the families of those fallen officers, Ammons said” “we owe you an unpayable debt.”
To those who now serve, Ammons said: “we as a society will never pay you, we will never respect you and we will never look at you as we should. But without you, our society simply would not exist.”
Ammons referred to the Bible, specifically Matthew 5:9, which says, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”
“We must always honor our heroes and our law enforcement officers,” Ammons said in conclusion. “We must honor their service and take care of their families. May their valor give us hope for peace.”
Following a gun volley and the playing of “Taps,” representatives from each of the departments that has had a fallen officer placed a memorial wreath.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.