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Ceremony salutes those who wore badge, gun

BRADENTON — Bagpipes reverberated throughout the Manatee County Courthouse square.

Later, a 21-gun salute.

Then the sound of a bugler playing “Taps.”

They punctuated the solemn mood at Thursday’s Manatee County Law Enforcement Memorial, remembering those who were killed in the line of duty.

There have been eight from 1897, Palmetto Marshall Joe Perry, to 1987, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Detective Herbert Grimes.

Two local law enforcement members — Ray O’Dell and Doug Plummer — have died of natural causes.

Although no local law enforcement member has died in the line of duty so far this year, Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube isn’t taking such fortune for granted.

“Every day when a law enforcement officer straps on his gun and goes to work, they’re taking a risk for our community,” he said.

“The fact we haven’t had a death ... speaks volumes about the training for officer survival. But we’ve got gangbangers out there shooting at one another, and unfortunately something can happen and unfortunately will happen someday. I hope I’m not here to see that.”

Keynote speaker Gail Padgett, a retired federal judge, said there are almost 18,000 names inscribed on the marble walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Seven hundred are from Florida, including five from this year.

At the podium, Padgett spoke of three reasons for Thursday’s memorial ceremonies:

n “Bravery shown by officers doing their job.”

n “Celebrate their lives. It’s not how these officers died that made them heroes. It’s how they lived.”

n “Their sacrifice be an inspiration to continue this righteous work that they did.”

Her comments echoed those of Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston, who was among the dignitaries on the dais Thursday.

“These are special people who met special standards of commitment,” he said. “People who realized their job had to be done by those who felt an honest and compelling concern for their fellow man. People who felt justice was in the grasp of a hard day’s work.

“It is our charge to remember those lives today and honor the way they lived.”

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055.

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