An audience of 100-plus gathered on Ferris State University’s Dewaine V. and Jana B. Robinson Quad on Tuesday, May 10, for the 18th annual Police Memorial, hosted by Ferris’ Department of Public Safety.
Community members of all ages joined law enforcement personnel from the university, municipal, county and state levels in recognition of 2023’s National Police Week, continuing a tradition that began with a 1962 proclamation by President John Kennedy. By resolution, the U.S. Congress supported a Police Officer Memorial Day as a mid-May remembrance of officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Mecosta County Undersheriff Gary Green served as master of ceremonies in the collaborative event that featured a presentation of the colors by an honor guard, commemorative prayers and placing a ceremonial wreath. A unique addition to this year’s Police Memorial was a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flyover.
Ferris President Bill Pink offered remarks, noting that in 1995, he was a schoolteacher in Oklahoma City, on April 19, close enough to feel a rumble from the Murrah Federal Building and learned of the horrific loss of life in a domestic terrorist act.
“Our law enforcement community gives us the opportunity to run to safety while they run to the danger, putting their lives between you and me and each threat,” Pink said. “Do not forget those who sacrifice their lives so we can live free.”
The keynote speaker for the Police Memorial was Ibrahim Haroon, Ferris’ new Department of Public Safety director. He encouraged the audience to show feelings of thanks and respect to those in law enforcement.
“The next time you see a first responder, smile at them. Let them know you are supportive,” Haroon said. “It will go further than you will ever imagine. Trust me, I know from experience.”
Big Rapids City Manager Mark Gifford, a Ferris alumnus, regularly attends the Police Memorial.
“I am happy to support my staff each year, as they take part in and help to organize this event,” Gifford said. “We rely on these people 24 hours a day, seven days a week and they deserve our respect and gratitude.”
Big Rapids High School sophomore Gabriel Chapman, a member of Boy Scout Troop 114 in Big Rapids, was among the youngest of the participants in the memorial as he performed “Taps” near the program’s conclusion.
“I just feel it is important to pay our respects to all those who have given their lives in support of us,” Chapman said.
The Police Memorial also allowed attendees opportunities to engage the law enforcement officials on hand and offer their greetings and thanks.