Fallen law enforcement officers honored

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A fallen peace officers memorial service in Nacogdoches provided memories, comforts, tears and smiles. Year after year the color guard, made up of county and city officers, set the mood. The annual ceremony has for the most part been completely somber. Families wanted people to know more about their loved one than just how they died. So now family photographs of the fallen officers are on the display. "Gives us something to smile about," said Pam Sitton, as she viewed an album showing her brother, Sgt. Tom Sitton with family and friends. Sitton was shot on May 24, 1996.

There was also a dedication of a permanent display paying tribute to fallen law enforcement officers. It's prominent location in the Nacogdoches County Courthouse will serve as a daily reminder to citizens about the ultimate sacrifices made in the name of justice.

But the tears still flow. Sitton's oldest daughter dabs at tears. So does a good friend, Troy Mock, a Nacogdoches police officer. "The 1990's were sad years for Nacogdoches County, for law enforcement and their citizens. We lost two great and loving men." They were constable Darrell Lunsford Sr who died in 1991. And Sitton five years later. There are more than 19,000 peace officers across the nation who made the ultimate sacrifice.

A gun salute breaks the silence. The memorials are a time for small towns to remember their heroes.  "Darrell was our friend. Garrison was his town and the bulldogs were his team," said Bob Barton. It's a time for families to say thank you. "I thank the many friends that's lifted us up, held our arm, cried with us, shared with us, prayed with us," said Travis Lunsford, 91, the father of Constable Lunsford.

"He was honest. He was helpful. He would do anything for anybody and we owe that to our parents," shared Pam Sitton. It all is a stark reminder to all the other peace officers in the room.  "None of us in this room want to be a statistic, but we also know it's a harsh reality of the profession we've chosen," said Thomas Kerss, Nacogdoches County Sheriff.  And that can never be forgotten.

To learn about fallen peace officers in your community visit the Officer Down Memorial Page website. You can find it at www.odmp.org

Fallen Officers in Nacogdoches County:

Deputized Civilian David W. Harvell, Dec. 14, 1871 (discovered this year by intensive research)
Constable John Birdwell, Dec. 19, 1871
Deputized Civilian Norton R. Moody, March 31, 1906
Deputy Sheriff William Jackson Carnley, May 16, 1918
Deputy Sheriff John W. (JOhnnie) Martin, March 28, 1924
Sheriff T.G. Vaught, Jan. 6, 1928
Deputy Sheriff John Arlington Hargis, Aug. 23, 1928
Patrolman Bennett Spradley, Dec. 2, 1948
Constable Darrell Edward Lunsford Sr., Jan. 23, 1991
Sergeant Tom Anderson Sitton, May 24, 1996