Franklin Honors Those Who “Gave All” at Law Enforcement Memorial Day

Law enforcement agencies, local dignitaries and others gathered this week at the courthouse square for the annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service presented by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #81 of Macon and Jackson Counties. The service is held each year to recognize law enforcement officers in North Carolina who have gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives while serving to protect others.

The local memorial is one such as envisioned by President John F. Kennedy in 1962 when he passed a law known as the National Police Officers Memorial Week. It was until almost 20 years later before any group celebrated National Police Officers Memorial Week with the first National Police Officers Memorial Day Service held on May 15, 1982 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The Macon & Jackson Counties Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge #81 was formed in February 2003 by a group of active and retired police personnel who came together and meet as a brotherhood.

“Today this lodge once again comes together as a brotherhood to recognize and honor those fellow North Carolina law enforcement officers and members of this brotherhood who have given their lives in the line of duty,” said Al Caiata, Master of Ceremonies and Vice President of the FOP Lodge #81. “Let us never forget but always remember, not only on this day but every day, our fallen brothers and sisters who have paid the ultimate price.”

Following the invocation by Pastor Brandon Breedlove, Chaplain of the Franklin Police Department (FPD), the colors were posted by the Franklin and Highlands Police Departments and the Macon County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). Officer Dwayne Cabe with the FPD sang the National Anthem. Piper Scott Eichelberger performed “God Bless America,” “Going Home” and “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes during the program.

Macon County Sheriff Robert Holland introduced the guest speaker, Chief Tim Ledford, with the Mint Hill Police Department in Mint Hill, NC. Ledford began his law enforcement career of 40 years with the FPD as a patrol officer. He has his undergraduate degree from Gardner Webb, graduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is a graduate of the FBI Academy. In addition, he is a retired Army National Guard Captain. In 2016, he was chosen as the North Carolina American Legion Officer of the Year for the state.

“All gave some, some gave all; this is a ceremony to honor those who gave all,” said Ledford. “Those that gave their lives in the line of duty are heroes; they are heroes not only because of how they died but because of how they lived. The courage they showed during these last few moments of their lives was not an unusual event but a daily one. We should never forget that some gave all; we should also remember that all gave some; every day they wore a badge, the ones who gave all used to be the ones who gave some, until the last day.”

Three fallen North Carolina Officers from 2016 were recognized during the memorial — K-9 Officer Timothy James Brakeen with the Shelby Police Department, Deputy Sheriff John Thomas Isenhour with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and K-9 Payne with the Pembroke Pines Police Department. A bell was tolled by Larry Miller, MCSO retired Officer, and Gary Keppen, retired Officer with the Cape Coral Florida Police Department, to honor these officers. Several officers from Western North Carolina who gave the ultimate sacrifice since 2001 were also recognized.

In addition, Captain Steve Apel, FPD, and Lieutenant Mike Jolly, HPD, placed the wreath honoring the fallen officers in front of the courthouse. The memorial concluded with a 21 gun salute by members of the American Legion Post #108 and VFW Post #7339 Honor Guard Unit under the leadership of Commander Neal Riendeau and benediction by Breedlove.