WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP | U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind. told Porter County Sheriff Department officers of a childhood ritual lovingly forced upon him by his mom, whose brother was a policeman.
"She would tell me to say a prayer for Uncle Bill that he gets home safe. Your family does the same for you," Donnelly said.
The Porter County Sheriff’s Department honored its fallen officers as part of National Police Week during the annual Police Memorial Service on Friday inside the Porter County Expo Center. The event began with an inspection of officers’ cars, guns, uniforms and equipment, followed by a ceremony that featured Donnelly as the keynote speaker.
Donnelly, the grandson of Irish immigrants, said he had just returned from a Washington, D.C., memorial service where people from around the world gathered to honor fallen officers.
"We lost a lot of officers from Indiana, and I wanted to be there to memorialize them. We stand together. When you (officers) head off, there's no guarantee you'll come home," Donnelly said.
Donnelly thanked the officers for putting their lives on the line every day.
"There's no way we can thank you enough for what you do," Donnelly said.
Sheriff David Lain spoke of permanence in life and how, as much as everyone wants it to remain, it can't since events happen that we can't always control.
"This is why we honor our fallen brothers," Lain said.
He honored Officer Edward Blakely, who died in 1961; Officer Timothy Hecht, who died in 1999; Robert Hardesty, who died in 2005, and Officer Phillip Pratt, who died May 16, 2012.
Lain also thanked those in his department.
"You do all the heavy lifting. There are a lot of challenges, and you do nothing but give it your all," Lain said.
Members of the John Simatovich and Union Center elementary school choirs performed, and instrumentalists from Chesterton High School played taps. Sgt. Steven Bond, from the Marion County Sheriff's Department, performed "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes.