In what was a ceremonial event Monday evening, the new Pottawatomie County Fallen Heroes Memorial was unveiled in front of the Pottawatomie County courthouse.
Pottawatomie County Undersheriff Travis Palmer explained the memorial includes the names of 17 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in Pottawatomie County since 1895.
As a formal tribute, the names of each were read aloud, including their End of Watch dates of death.
Those on the monument include sheriffs and deputies from the Pottawatomie County Sheriff's Office, as well as chiefs, officers and constables from the Shawnee, Tecumseh and McLoud police departments.
District Attorney Richard Smothermon spoke to the crowd in attendance and said in Oklahoma, 469 officers have lost their lives in the line of duty.
"Tonight we honor 17 brave Oklahomans included in that 469," he said.
Smothermon, who said police officers have a "unique fraternity like no other," told the families, "It must be so hard to find honor in such tragedy…and hard to reopen this wound."
But he also told them they've joined the fraternity — "you're one of us now."
The dedication included a 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps, Palmer said.
The front of the monument reads "Pottawatomie County Fallen Heroes Memorial," and includes the 17 names with their End of Watch dates, along with where they worked. The back has the Pottawatomie County law enforcement badge.
And while they hope it is never needed, the memorial does have room for additional names.
"We pray it's a design flaw, but there will likely be a day we etch another name into the monument," Smothermon said, thanking the many officers and deputies in attendance for the jobs they do each day.
"Thank God for what you do, thank God you put on that badge and thank God you risk you lives for us," he said.
One of the fallen heroes on the memorial, David Clark, was a 22-year-old Shawnee police officer when he was killed in 1980.
Now, 32 years after his death, many of his family members were there to share in the unveiling.
His mother, Christine Clark, said it was a wonderful tribute to see.
His sister, Sherri Reed, said her brother knew he wanted to be a police officer since the two would ride their tricycles together.
"He was four and I was two…he'd pull me over on my tricycle and write me a ticket on a Big Chief tablet," she remembered, calling the monument "beautiful."
The monument also helps those who've never met their loved ones, including Summer Tarver, Clark's niece.
"I never got to meet him or pay my respect," she said, adding the memorial is a way for her to pay tribute to her uncle.
Sheriff Mike Booth said it's important for everyone to honor and recognize those killed and to understand the sacrifices.
"I hope you go by this monument, read the names, touch the stone and say 'thank you,'" Booth told the crowd.
Having a memorial to honor law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty was an idea before Reserve Deputies Mike Roberts and Tim Lowry were killed last year, but their deaths prompted the project to move forward as donations and fundraisers commenced to pay for the $8,500 monument.
Roberts' sister, Margaret Mocabee, was one many family members there to see the unveiling.
"It's just such a tribute to all law enforcement," she said, "and humbling to our family."
She also said it's true about the law enforcement fraternity.
"There's not a week that goes by that we don't hear from somebody," she said.
Kathy Lowry, the widow of Deputy Tim Lowry, called the monument "beautiful" and quite an honor.
The Fallen Heroes listed on the memorial, including their End of Watch dates, are:
• Will Turner, Deputy Sheriff, Pottawatomie County, April 27, 1895.