NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Every year, Nacogdoches County hosts a fallen peace officers memorial service. On Thursday, the tradition continued.
This year, the bagpipes, the gun salute, and the playing of "Taps" took on additional significance.
A bagpipe stirred emotions while guests remembered 10 fallen officers who died in the line of duty from 1871 to 1996.
The service was also one of thankfulness. In Thursday's ceremony, Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges acknowledged the three officer-involved shooting fatalities in the last year.
"The danger still exists out there, and that was my point for bringing it up," Bridges said. "That these officers never know what they're going to encounter and the dangers are very real out there for them."
Families of fallen officers said news of officer-involved shootings hit close to home.
"I'm sorry, you know, that people are having to be killed in order for our men to live, but they've got to take care of themselves," said Shirley Lunsford Ruthven, Constable Darrell Lunsford's widow.
"We're so thankful that our law enforcement officers are the ones that prevailed," said Pam Sitton Latham, Sgt. Tom Latham's sister.
"What we do out there on the streets is basically, we're fighting people's nightmares," said Stephen Godfrey, the chief deputy of the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office.
Once one witnesses the bond between law enforcement officers, it's easy to tell they'll never forget their fellow officer.
Nacogdoches police detective Troy Mach said it seems like yesterday his good friend Sgt. Tom Sitton was shot and killed. He's been carrying the memory for 18 years.
"You know what your job is and you go out and do your job, no matter what the danger," Mach said. "You just deal with them as they exist."
More than 17 law enforcement agencies participated in Thursday's memorial service. The Gregg County Sheriff's Office also assisted with the ceremony.