Candlelight vigil honors fallen Mo. officers

By Clinton Thomas
St. Joseph News-Press, Mo. 
BUCHANAN CO., Mo.— The Peace Officers Memorial at Civic Center Park was constructed nearly seven years ago to honor the law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in Buchanan County.

Fifteen names and faces grace the bronze plaques on black marble standards, while nine spaces sit empty for future recognition.

The Fraternal Order of Police hosted a candlelight vigil Tuesday -- National Peace Officers Memorial Day -- to honor those 15 men. Buchanan County Sheriff Mike Strong closed the ceremony with a short statement that drew solemn nods from the assembled crowd.

"Hopefully, it will be many years before we have to add another name to the roll of honor," Mr. Strong said.

No law enforcement officer has died in Buchanan County since Sgt. Robert Kimberling of the Missouri State Highway Patrol was shot along Interstate 29 on Oct. 6, 1999. Detective Sgt. Aloysius Wisniewski of the St. Joseph Police Department was added to the memorial in 2002, more than 40 years after his death in 1961. That exception aside, the annual ceremony has provided no new reason to grieve since the memorial's construction.

Col. James Keathley, superintendant of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said the officers weren't heroes for how they died but because of how they lived.

Mr. Keathley recalled a trip he took last year to Israel to work with the local law enforcement agencies. During the trip, officers gathered on a mountain above the Sea of Galilee at the spot where Jesus was believed to have given the "Sermon on the Mount." At the top of the mountain, one officer began to read from the Bible.

Mr. Keathley said one particular passage stood out.

"'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.' That part is for us," Mr. Keathley said.

Twelve police officers, two highway patrolmen and one member of the Buchanan County Sheriff's Department make up the list of 15 men honored at the memorial.

They are Horry M. Fish (Feb. 2, 1868), Joseph H. Killion (June 14, 1917), Charles Hensley (May 14, 1919), Albert Hall (Oct. 26, 1921), Thomas Johnson (Oct. 27, 1921), John H. House (July 28, 1922), John Less (Oct. 22, 1923), Walter A. Wood (Oct. 4, 1926), Sherman B. Winder (Sept. 30, 1940), Alva N. Mead (March 18, 1944), Aloysius L. Wisniewski (Sept. 16, 1961), Henry C. Bruns (Feb. 16, 1987), John W. Duty (Sept. 15, 1991), Bradley T. Arn (Nov. 10, 1998) and Robert G. Kimberling (Oct. 6, 1999).

Copyright 2007 St. Joseph News-Press

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