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Paying tribute to fallen heroes.

It was a perfect spring day--despite early-morning dire predictions of rain--as National Correctional Officers Week kicked off on May 3 with the 12th annual wreath-laying ceremony honoring fallen officers. The event is held each year at Judiciary Square at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial site in Washington, D.C. While it is a regional memorial service, in scope, it serves as a national commemoration to all fallen officers. Not only were those officers who have been killed in the line of duty from Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia remembered, but also all correctional employees who lost their lives in the line of duty across the nation in 2002.

Members of honor guard contingents in the jurisdictions surrounding the nation's capital placed a single long-stemmed rose to commemorate each of the fallen officers. This was followed by the formal wreath-laying on the same site, featuring a prayer and the playing of "Taps" by Lt. Thomas Shaw of the Loudoun County, Va., Sheriff's Office and Cpl. Melvin Fulton of the Prince George's County, Md., Department of Corrections during the moment of silence.

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The International Association of Correctional Officers, which currently holds it annual conference in Washington, D.C., participates in the ceremony each year. Its president, Mel Grieshaber, solemnly read the names of the fallen. Mary K. Hill, chairwoman of the board for the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments, the organization that sponsors the annual event, invoked memories of the many correctional officers who were called up to serve in Iraq.

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Charles Kehoe, president of the American Correctional Association, was the keynote speaker. Kehoe pointed out the difficulty today of filling correctional officer vacancies and retaining officers as he revealed the ACA grant-funded initiative looking into how best to recruit and retain correctional officers. He thanked all who attended the celebration, and singled out the large contingent from the Philadelphia Prison System and Warden Thomas Shields for their unflagging annual attendance.

The event was followed by an honor guard competition among Washington-area jurisdictions. The Prince George's County, Md., DOC took first place, followed by Arlington County, Va., Office of the Sheriff and Fairfax County, Va., Office of the Sheriff. A trophy for "best dressed" was awarded to Montgomery County, Md., Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Judging was by U.S. Marine color guard personnel.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Honoring those officers killed in the line of duty:

Eric Jason Autobee, Colorado

David Hiram Bowser Jr., Pennsylvania

Howard E. (Buck) Callis, Kentucky

John Thomas Hart Jr., New York

James Gover Henderson Jr., Georgia

James C. Hesterberg, Alaska

William J. Mann, Idaho

Shannon Douglas Russell, Arizona

Rodney C. Welch, Missouri

Vicki Duncan is president of the Maryland Criminal Justice Association and coordinator of the annual wreath-laying ceremony.

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Author:Duncan, Vicki
Publication:Corrections Today
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2003
Words:462
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