Speakers at the service in Smyrna included Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn, Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security Robert Coupe, Delaware State Police Superintendent Col. Nathaniel McQueen Jr. and Eleanor Allione, the president of the Concerns of Police Survivors group.
The annual Delaware State Police Memorial Service was held at Saint Polycarp Church in Smyrna Dec. 3 to honor and remember the service and ultimate sacrifice of troopers who died in the line of duty.
Speakers at the ceremony included Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn, Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security Robert Coupe, Delaware State Police Superintendent Col. Nathaniel McQueen Jr. and Concerns of Police Survivors President Eleanor Allione.
The Most Reverend Bishop W. Francis Malooly and the Delaware State Police chaplains, Florence Cephas and William Coco, offered words of thanks and prayers for fallen troopers, survivors and for the protection and safety of troopers.
Most Reverend Bishop W. Francis Malooly said, "Today once again, I simply thank you for all you do. We are so grateful and I’m very happy that every year you come to join the families who have lost loved ones and support them. That camaradery that you have exhibited always is so significant not only in your day- to-day work but in respecting and loving those who have come before us. We gather to remember and we pray each day for you and for your safety. You are a light and a presence of God for us. You provide safety and protection for us citizens and for that we are all very grateful."
Attorney General Matthew Denn said everyone should remember that men and women in law enforcement put themselves in harm’s way every day to protect others.
"It’s very important that we have this Delaware State Police Memorial Service…events like this where we can look you in the eye in the space of this ol' church with the sound of the pipes and drums echoing of the walls and say, 'We remember your child. We remember your sibling. We remember your parent and say thank you for what they have done,'" said Denn.
Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security Robert Coupe said ever since he first spoke at the memorial service in 2009 he has searched to find the words to describe the significance of this moments.
"We are here together as a family honoring our fallen brothers and sisters and to reassure you that we will never forget your loved ones and the sacrifice they made serving as Delaware State Troopers," Coupe said. "What I want to say is thank you, thank you for coming today and sharing this day with us so we can remember and honor your loved ones, our brothers and sisters. While we are saddened as we think of those we have lost, may we be uplifted as we think of the joyful times that we shared with them and as we hear stories of their service and may your presence today strengthen our courage and our faith – you inspire us. It is our hope that this celebration of life somehow provides you with strength for the day and some comfort for your tears."
Coupe said some troopers honored at the ceremony served before many of those in attendance were born.
"That is a reminder of why this memorial service is so important to fulfill our promise to all troopers that we shall never forget their service and their sacrifice," Coupe said. We are grateful to all that are here today to fulfill that promise. We love you and we too, miss your loved ones, our brothers and sisters, our heroes; they are gone, but not forgotten. May God bless you and keep you safe.”
Delaware State Police Superintendent Col. Nathaniel McQueen Jr. said although the service is a solemn occasion, the dedication and courage of heroes like these troopers are an enduring source of inspiration.
"Today, we are here to lift each other, support our survivors, and honor the memory of Delaware State Troopers who gave their lives in the line of duty and those who have lost their lives while so proudly serving the citizens of this great state," said McQueen. "Our heartfelt sympathies go out to our colleagues and all agencies in our extended law enforcement family who have experienced the loss of an officer this year."
He said he is often asked if police work is more difficult and more dangerous today than in the past.
"The reality is that law enforcement has and continues to come with significant risks and the headlines do nothing to dispel or calm our thoughts that our world has become more dangerous," McQueen said. "As the risk continues, we strive each and every day to welcome the prayers, to work through the pain, to embrace the pride, to focus on progress and to keep our promise. We welcome the prayers for the protection and safety of our troopers, as they give us hope and restore our faith and commitment to service."
During the Heroes’ Roll Call, Operations Officer for New Castle County Major Melissa Zebley explained the importance of the campaign hat in the memorial ceremony.
"Since the late 1950s all Delaware State Troopers have worn the blue campaign hat. The hat is worn year round in hot and cold temperatures and in dry and wet conditions. The hat is a symbol of the Delaware State Police. It represents all troopers past and present," Zebley said.
The Delaware State Police Honor Guard placed a campaign hat at the altar to represent of all of the fallen troopers, and then family members and friends of the troopers placed roses around the hat, or a trooper placed a rose at the hat on behalf of the family of a fallen trooper.