GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Hundreds of survivors of deceased law enforcement officers gathered in Washington DC on Friday evening for the annual candlelight vigil.
Volunteers from the northeast Wisconsin chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors, or COPS, served as escorts to the families.
Local 5 News had the chance to speak briefly with one of those volunteers, North East Chapter President Jo Ann Mignon, before the ceremony.
“There are so many people here who lost family members 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago,” Mignon explained. “Our goal is to make sure the sacrifice they made is never forgotten.”
Three officers from Wisconsin were added to the memorial this year.
Wisconsin State Patrol Master Trooper Daniel Stainbrook and Fond Du Lac Police Officer Joseph Kurer who both succumbed to COVID-19, and Milwaukee Police Officer Mark Lentz also died of health issues.
Mignon said it made a big difference to have the whole ceremony in person again after the pandemic. She said this year the volunteers felt like it was a family reunion.
“I think the fact that we’ve all been through so much in the last two years. Finally, this year, the Canadian RCMP is back. England’s bobbies are back. Everyone is back together again,” Mignon said.
She knows well that the pain never goes away.
This July marks the 20th anniversary of the loss of his partner Constable Stephanie Markins and fellow Constable Robert Etter of the Hobart-Lawrence Police Department.
Many families of deceased people simply cannot withstand the pressure that comes with attending services in front of the public. That’s why COPS is here to offer them some privacy and to protect those who want to join other families but don’t want their grief seen by the general public.
“We want to be here to serve these families. There are other days when you can thank the agents for their service and what they do. This week is about officers who have been lost and remembering their lives and families and honoring what they have done.
The Greater Milwaukee Fire and Police Pipe and Drums again held the “Midnight Piper” tribute.
At 11:50 p.m. Friday, pipers line up across Wisconsin and begin playing “Amazing Grace.”
Northeastern Wisconsin locations for the Piper Tribute include Kewaunee Harbor Park, Fond Du Lac’s Hamilton Park, and Sheboygan Police Department.