11 September 2019

A personal reflection on Police Remembrance Day

| Contributor
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Services have been held across NSW to honour more than 270 police officers. Photo: NSW Police Facebook.

Services have been held across NSW to honour more than 270 police officers. Photo: NSW Police Facebook.

National Police Remembrance Day is held annually on September 29 (today) – St Michael and All Angels Day, St Michael is the Patron Saint of Police and recognised by Christian, Jewish and Islamic faiths.

This year, to avoid conflicts with the long weekend, the annual Far South Coast Police Remembrance Day Service was held yesterday (Friday, September 28) at St John’s Anglican Church in Bega.

Approximately 90 people attended, including serving and retired police and their families, members of other emergency services, and members of the public.

Several comments were made prior to the service that the Rural Fire Service and Fire & Rescue NSW would have fewer attendees than usual as they continue with their duties on the Yankees Gap Bushfire, comments that recognise that the Emergency Services are one big family.

Chief Inspector Peter Volf gave the Occasional Address and told of attending the funeral last week of a close friend and member of the Australian Federal Police, where he was embraced by AFP members as one of their own, State boundaries ceasing to exist.

He went on to reflect how fitting and succinct the American Police job description was – “To Protect and Serve”, as officers are called to serve their communities, protecting them from chaos.

St John's Anglican Church in Bega, played host to Police Remembrance Day. Photo: Fiona E.I Avery

St John’s Anglican Church in Bega, played host to Police Remembrance Day. Photo: Fiona E.I Avery

Locally in the past 12 months, we have been tragically touched by the death of Senior Constable Michael John Horne (retired) in June. No longer on active duty, but still with his police instincts driving his actions, sadly he was killed, leaving behind grieving families, both blood and blue.

Further up the coast in the Shoalhaven, mourning continues for Chief Inspector Steven Martin Johnson.

These are just two the names among the 18 names officially included in the Valedictory this year.

Reverend Captain Stuart Haynes, from the Bega Anglican Parish, led the Church Address. Taking inspiration from the NSW Police Crest, he spoke about justice, love and victory.

He gave Biblical references to all three, pointing to ‘justice’ under God’s Authority through the Crown, ‘love’ in the service and sacrifice to the community, and ‘victory’ over crime and chaos signified by the laurel wreath of the Police emblem.

Father Luke Verrell, from the Bega Catholic Church, opened and closed the prayers, which were read by various members of the policing family.

As a former NSW Police Officer, I took time to remember those who have died in the line of duty in previous years, and to pray for those in other States, especially the Victorian families grieving the loss, two weeks ago, of a serving member, killed during the Wall to Wall Remembrance Ride as it headed from Melbourne to Merimbula.

I also prayed for the Queensland officer, Constable Peter McAulay lying in a critical condition following a horrific accident whilst deploying road spikes; two teenagers allegedly driving the stolen car have been charged with his attempted murder.

Each officer in that church had their own personal reflections and remembrances.

Following the service, the ladies of the Bega Anglican Parish provided a wonderful morning tea, where service attendees gathered to support each other and catch up.

We are truly blessed to have so many people willing to do the work that Police Officers do every day, and National Police Remembrance Day is truly a day to remember and revere those who have paid that ultimate price.

It is also a banding together of all who recognise and support the bonds of the policing family across our country.

Words by Bemboka’s Fiona E.I Avery

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