Pa. honors fallen police officers with emotional ceremony - abc27 WHTM

Pa. honors fallen police officers with emotional ceremony

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Pennsylvania honored the lives of two fallen officers during an emotional ceremony in Harrisburg.

The service also reminded many how dangerous it can be to put on a police uniform.

Bagpipes bellowed the somber and familiar tune of "Amazing Grace," which rippled goose bumps on the skin of those in attendance. Gunshots from the rifle salute ricocheted off the walls of The Forum in Harrisburg, matching the palatable emotions.

With badges shining, the room was filled with brave men and women donning a police uniform, hailing for their respective township, city or borough. All gathered to remember the lives of two officers who were killed in the line of duty last year.

Officer William McCarthy IV, who served with the Shenango Police Department in Lawrence County, was killed on May 2, 2013. According to his obituary, the 60 year-old father of two sons was killed in a car crash. McCarthy was a passenger in a police cruiser while attempting to stop a suspect in pursuit.

Officer Daniel “J.J.” Lomax of the Forest City Borough Police Department was killed last June. According to his obituary, Lomax stopped to help a vehicle that was reported to have crashed into a power pole. The 55 year-old, who also served as a voluntary firefighter, was electrocuted by downed power lines stemming from the crash.

Governor Tom Corbett offered remarks.

"When the life of a police officer is lost, it makes us ask why," he said, "but when danger does erupt, you don't run away from it. You run towards it so that the rest of us have time to get away from it."

Pennsylvania’s top cop, Attorney General Kathleen Kane, read a poem entitled “Chief.” Kane said she read it last year, but it was so powerful she decided to share those words again.

"What's the tear for, asked the angel? It's for bottled up emotions for fallen comrades, for commitment to that funny piece of cloth called the American flag. For justice," Kane read.

Family members and police officers for each fallen officer placed a white flower in the center of a badge-style wreath on stage. Governor Corbett placed a red rose in the center.

The ceremony also celebrated the lives of officers both present and past. It has been four years since the Midstate lost one of its own in uniform. The 2010 shooting death of Wildlife Conservation Officer David Grove is still raw for many.

Several Harrisburg Police Department officers attended the ceremonies, including Chief Tom Carter and Lt. Kelly Wetzel. Both men said they left the services inspired.

“Sort of rededicate ourselves to why we [become] to be police officers," Wetzel said.

McCarthy and Lomax will be honored during a national ceremony in Washington, D.C. Their names will be etched onto the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Currently, there are 20,394 named on the memorial.

Besides honoring officers, the ceremony hoped to educate civilians on just how dangerous the job of an officer can be and to show the true colors of those in blue.

"They may not want to admit it, but they really [police] care," said Wetzel.

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