Local police pay tribute to fallen comrades
By Brian Stanley For The Herald-News May 10, 2012 9:36PM
Police officers salute during a Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony near the Will County Law Enforcement Memorial Thursday, May 10, 2012, in Joliet. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 12, 2012 8:23AM
JOLIET — Next week will be the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s establishment of National Police Week and designation of May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day.
Thursday marked the 31st time police departments throughout Will County gathered to remember local officers who made the ultimate sacrifice with a Catholic Mass and public memorial service.
Officers from Beecher, Bolingbrook, Channahon, Elwood, Frankfort, Joliet, Joliet Junior College, Lemont, Lockport, Mokena, Peotone, Plainfield, Rockdale, Romeoville, Shorewood, Tinley Park, the sheriff’s police and state police attended ceremonies that began with “Blue Mass” at St. Mary Magdalene Church.
The Rev. Chris Groh, Joliet police chaplain; the Rev. Vytas Memenas, the Will County sheriff’s chaplain; and the Rev. Greg Podwysocki, Romeoville police chaplain, led the religious service where Memenas spoke of remembrance and mortality.
“We (must) never forget the men and women who sacrificed their lives. Their lives were not given, they were taken,” Memenas said.
After Communion, which was presented to the priests by Joliet officers Richard Demick and Tom Ponce, a police procession moved to the Will County Courthouse. Honor guards, a bugler, pipes and drums and a rifle squad provided ceremony while a wreath was laid beside the police memorial on the courthouse lawn.
“Without your courage, there would be no security,” Chief Judge Gerald Kinney said.
Mokena Chief Randy Rajewski read the names of the 33 fallen officers inscribed on the monument, starting with Joseph Clark, a correctional officer killed at the Collins Street prison in 1865. Joliet’s Jonathan Walsh was the last Will County officer to die in the line of duty, in 2004.