Remembering the Fallen
May 15th has been designated as National Law Enforcement Memorial Day each year since 1962. It's a day set aside to reverently honor the sacrifice of so many courageous men and women who died in service to their friends, neighbors and community. These men and women assumed the risks and dangers associated with being a law enforcement officer because the responsibility of protecting the innocent, standing up for the weak and confronting the evils of society was worth such a risk. Although nobody wants to make the ultimate sacrifice, it takes courage and a commitment to service of others, to be willing to do so.
Across the State of Kansas, since 1866, there have been 282 law enforcement officers give their lives in the line of duty.
Some of those lawmen died while serving Cherokee County.
A few years ago, I had the privilege of helping to ensure their sacrifice would forever remain known by having their names added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington D.C.
In that same spirit, I think it's important - especially on Law Enforcement Memorial Day - to remember their service, regardless of how long ago, because their sacrifice helped shape Cherokee County.
In November, 1870, after a woman who operated a local brothel shot at two men, Baxter Springs City Marshal Henry Seaman attempted to arrest her. During the arrest attempt, one of the men the woman had just shot at actually shot and killed Marshal Seaman.
After Marshal Seaman's murder, the Baxter Springs Mayor appointed C.M. Taylor, a Union Army Veteran, to serve as the City Marshal. Two years into the post, in June 1872, the owner of a local lumberyard swore out a warrant for the arrest of the mayor after the mayor refused to pay his debt. As Marshal Taylor attempted to arrest the mayor, he was shot and killed.
In March, 1888, Columbus City Marshal David Gordon was shot and killed while investigating a break in at the Gulf Depot. Two brothers were convicted and sentenced to life in prison for Marshal Gordon's murder. On September 10, 1896, one of the brothers was shot and killed as he attempted to escape the Leavenworth Penitentiary.
On February 6, 1900, Empire City Marshal Marion Thomas was attempting to arrest a drunk who was creating a disturbance in a saloon. Marshal Thomas was shot and killed while attempting to make the arrest. Empire City was annexed into Galena a few years later, in 1907.
Galena City Marshal Milford Parker died from electrocution while attempting to remove a telephone wire which had fallen across as sidewalk on June 25, 1900.
Spring Valley Township Constable Deputy John Crawford was killed by gunshot when he, another constable and the Justice of the Peace were raiding a whiskey still in an abandoned coal mine in Columbus on New Year's Eve, December 31, 1929.
In April, 1939, Baxter Springs Chief of Police John T. Moyer was called to a disturbance at a local boarding establishment. When Chief Moyer arrived and attempted to remove the man, the suspect retrieved a .45 caliber handgun and shot Chief Moyer. The Chief was transported to a Joplin hospital where he died several days later.
These men all died while trying to provide a service to our community. Although the incidents which led to their deaths happened many years ago, their service and sacrifice deserve to be honored. Their names deserve to be remembered. The risks they faced back then vary in some ways from the risks faced by law enforcement today, but in many ways, they remain the same. Those risks - which are just as real in Cherokee County, Kansas as they are anywhere else in the country - are reasons to be thankful for those who willingly dedicate their lives to serving and helping others.
I'd ask you all join me on this Law Enforcement Memorial Day to give pause in honor of those who have given their lives in service, leaving behind family and friends, especially our most recent fallen brother, Overland Park Officer Michael Mosher, who was killed in the line of duty earlier this month.
"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:13.
God Bless and Stay Safe,
Sheriff David M. Groves