Gathered beneath flags hanging at half-staff, local law enforcement representatives paid tribute to their fallen comrades in a Thursday ceremony that was part of National Police Memorial Week.
Thirty-three white roses bore the names of the Alaskan officers killed in the line of duty since statehood. Their names were read aloud by Alaska State Trooper 1st Sgt. Nils Monsen, Kenai Police Lt. Jeff Kohler, and Soldotna Police Chief Shirley Warner, as each rose was laid at the base of the flagpole in front of Soldotna's police station.
Warner credited President John F. Kennedy with declaring May 15 as National Police Memorial Day. She said the first officer honored was the officer trying to apprehend Kennedy's assassin. This week is celebrated as National Police Memorial Week across the United States.
"We're honoring one of our own," said Warner, referring to James Arland Rowland Jr., of the Palmer Police Department, who, ironically, was killed in the line of duty on May 15, 1999.
"This is our day to remember our comrades who answered the final call and gave their lives in the line of duty," Warner said.
After all 33 names were read, Soldotna Sgt. Rob Quelland placed a single red rose with the other flowers, in honor of all officers who remain in service today.
Pastor Jonathan Pedersen of the Soldotna First Baptist Church, offered a closing prayer, asking for the continued safety of all law enforcement officers, their safe return home each evening, friends and family who understand them, and thankfulness for their willingness to serve.
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