Law enforcement is a dangerous profession. The risk to life is present every day and around every corner. The men and women who are sworn to protect Florida's citizens understand that danger each time they put on their uniform, and their families recognize that every time they say goodbye could be their last.
In 2013, four Florida officers were killed in the line of duty, making the ultimate sacrifice in upholding their oath to serve and protect. Since 1845, more than 9,000 officers have lost their lives nationwide while protecting their communities. Too many of those officers over the years have been Florida’s sheriffs, Deputies and others on the frontline. In 2000, an effort was begun by the late Buddy Phillips to create a memorial to honor the fallen officers.
As executive director of the Florida Sheriffs Association, Phillips had a vision for a permanent memorial wall with the names of officers engraved on it, much like the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. He also wanted to include a sculpture representing the impact their sacrifice has on the colleagues and loved ones of those who are lost.
Phillips commissioned Tallahassee resident and nationally renowned sculptor Sandy Proctor to create a sculpture featuring a bench with a group depicting the wife of a fallen deputy, her small child, a sheriff and fellow deputies. The sobering bronze figures are a perfect complement to the powerful curved marble wall engraved with the names of the fallen officers. Combined with the majestic oaks and serene landscaping, visiting the memorial is a moving experience.
But it almost didn’t happen. Because FSA has a set operating budget that goes directly to programs that enhance law enforcement in all counties throughout the state, any special projects – such as the Law Enforcement Memorial – must be funded separately. FSA members stepped up with significant contributions, but a year into the project, Phillips announced that the association was $100,000 short of what was needed.
It was then that the heart of FSA and its members throughout the nation was on full display. More than 11,000 member individuals, families and businesses dug deeper, bridged the gap and made this memorial a reality. And many of these donors attended the Memorial Wall dedication September 18, 2002.
Today, the memorial and gardens stand as a tribute to those was gave their lives and a symbol of the love and admiration our members showed in honoring them through their donations.
That was more than 10 years ago, and the memorial remains a place of honor in front of the new FSA headquarters building. Still, the need to support its maintenance continues. FSA still depends on member donations to fund an annual service to add new names to the memorial and to maintain the wall, sculpture and memorial gardens.
Please consider supporting the memorial through a financial gift today. For a gift of $25 or more, we will send you a collectible coin as a reminder of your generosity and commitment to honoring those who have given their lives for us.
Check back to learn about our annual memorial services, usually the first Monday in May, and you are welcome to visit any time you are in Tallahassee. Thank you in advance for your consideration and continued support of the sheriffs of Florida.