A ceremony at the Governor's Gardens on Saturday drove home the sad, salient truth that's known to all families with someone working in law enforcement: When your loved ones leave for a shift, it may be the last time you see them alive.
The annual ceremony honored four such Missouri officers — those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
It added the names of these four officers to the state's Law Enforcement Memorial's Wall of Heroes, located on the north side of the Capitol. It was the 31st annual ceremony honoring these fallen heroes.
Law officers from around the state and their families remembered Barry County Sheriff's Office Master Sgt. Carl Cosper, Jr. and Clinton Police Department Officer Gary Michael Jr. who both died in the line of duty in 2017. Also honored were Village of Miramiguoa Police Department Officer Kevin Dziejma who died in 2015 and Platte County Sheriff's Office Deputy Edward Culver who died in 1917.
On April 7, 2017, Cosper was killed in a vehicle collision on Missouri 37 at County Road 1060, as he responded to a domestic violence call in the town of Seligman. Michael was shot and killed Aug. 6, 2017, during a traffic stop. Dziejma had made a traffic stop May 18, 2015, and was conducting warrant checks on two subjects when he collapsed from a heart attack. On June 23, 1917, Culver and another deputy were breaking up a fight at a saloon in Drydale. A subject was able to disarm the other deputy and shoot Culver in the chest. Culver returned fire and killed the gunman before dying.
Those who go into the field of law enforcement do so not to gain wealth or fame. They feel a calling to not only uphold the law, but to help their fellow man.
We commend the four officers honored Saturday, as well as the other nearly 700 on the wall. They epitomize selfless service and bravery.