HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Hundreds of people gathered in the Hub City to honor fallen law enforcement officers from the Pine Belt Wednesday.
Five Pine Belt agencies from Forrest and Lamar counties were honored during the ceremony held at the Lake Terrace Convention Center.
"I want to celebrate the lives of these folks that gave the ultimate sacrifice," said Dawn Beam, Mississippi Supreme Court Justice and guest speaker. "I want to thank these beautiful law enforcement officers, you stand between us and those that want to cause evil every day."
One of the family members of fallen Hattiesburg police officer Jessie James Everett, Debbie Everett, was in attendance for the ceremony.
"This ceremony means a lot to me, it's been 65 years since my father was killed," Everett said. "We've always been part of the law enforcement family, and always will feel that way."
A wreath with patches from the five agencies, Lamar and Forrest County Sheriff's Department, Petal and Hattiesburg Police and Mississippi Highway Patrol was placed at the base of a flag during the ceremony.
"The people we're memorializing gave the ultimate sacrifice," Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel said. "It's also to honor the officers that are still standing in the gap between good and evil and that's what they do day in and day out."
One thing everyone in attendance shared was that those behind the badge are all family.
"It is a family, it's a brotherhood, you know we come together as a group no matter what uniform we actually wear, we're all still law enforcement," Hattiesburg Police Lt. Jon Traxler said.
Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree and Petal Mayor Hal Marx, along with Forrest County Supervisor David Hogan and Lamar County Supervisor Joe Bounds all read proclamations honoring the fallen officers and their families.
"It's a very dangerous job, they realize that, the families realize that and this is just a wonderful way to show their appreciation to the families and to the officers themselves," Rigel said.
Everett said she hopes memorial ceremonies will also serve as a reminder to younger officers.
"The young officers that are now serving, to remember this, it means a lot because they will be a little more careful," Everett said.
Traxler said, "All of us together are able to work together as one group to provide the best service for our community. It just shows that we were put here for a reason, and those of us who do wear this uniform are the ones that are able to stand up for the citizens who are not able to and be able to protect them from the evil."
Fallen Hattiesburg Officers:
Officer Jessie James
Officer M. W. Vinson Jr.
Sgt. David Anthony
Sgt. Jackie Dole Sherill
Officer Benjamin Deen
Officer Liquori Tate
Fallen Forrest County Sheriff's Office Officers:
Howard Lee Hagwood
Stewart G. Coates
Fredrick (Cotton) Humphrey
Johnny B. Watts
John R. Klem, III
Fallen Mississippi Highway Patrol Officers:
James H. Tingle
H. L. Duckworth
James K. Bounds
Ralph R. Newell