Paying their respects to the 98 police and peace officers who have laid down their lives for the communities they serve, hundreds gathered at the Legislature for the Alberta Police and Peace Officers Memorial.
“When they go to work in the morning, they expect to come home at night. For all these names that were read off today, that didn’t happen,” said Margaret Galloway, the widow of Cpl. James “Jim” Galloway who was shot during a standoff with a mentally ill man in Spruce Grove on Feb. 8, 2004.
While she said her beloved Jim — credited with setting up the RCMP’s Civilian Search and Rescue Dog Association in Alberta who happily shared his home with five police dogs — would be amazed by the memorials and dedications celebrating his life, a small turnout from the community had her questioning whether these sacrifices were truly appreciated by those they died to protect.
“These officers laid down their lives for all of Alberta, and yet only 500 people come here to show their respect? That’s a little disheartening to me,” she said.
Members of the community and family members laid flowers and wreaths at the foot of the Pillar of Strength Monument, with 98 bronze doves etched with the names of those police and peace officers in Alberta who died in the line of duty.
“They chose to place themselves in between the bad guys and their communities,” said Sgt. Paul Wozney, representing the Alberta Federation of the Police Associations.
“They serve and protect because it’s their calling, because of their sense of duty and because their conscience tells them it’s the right thing to do,” said minister of justice and solicitor general Jonathan Denis, who added that while it is rare for officers in Alberta to lose their lives in the line of duty — without any in the last year — the threat is real and constant.
“The loss of one of us is a loss felt by all of us,” said deputy commissioner Marianne Ryan with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Over a hundred years after losing his life while trying to arrest a robber who was breaking into a box car, Robert MacIntosh — killed in action on Sept. 3, 1912 — of the Canadian Pacific Railway police finally had his name added to the Pillar of Strength Memorial, ensuring his sacrifice will never be forgotten.
Alberta’s Police and Peace Officer’s Memorial Day, held on the last Sunday of September since being proclaimed in 1999, coincides with ceremonies across Canada to remember those lives lost in the line of duty, and those family members, friends and colleagues left behind.