SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The Savannah Police Department remembered all of its officers killed in the line of duty this week - 54 Hometown Heroes who left their mark on the city and remain in the minds of the men and women who serve it.
A ceremony was held Wednesday outside of Savannah Police Headquarters. A series of speeches and symbols served as gestures to remember Savannah's fallen officers, ensuring that they will never be forgotten.
"They loved this community and they gave up their lives to protect it," said Officer Mark MacPhail, Jr., Savannah Police Department.
The Savannah Police Department joined the recognition of National Police Week, honoring the 54 local officers who have been killed in the line of duty since 1868 - remembering brothers in service as family members of the officers held onto the memory of a loved one.
"It lets us know that he hasn't been forgotten and that everybody was really thinking about them and praying for them," said Beautine Grayson, relative of fallen officer, George Singleton.
For the family of George Singleton, a U.S. Customs agent killed in a raid three days before Christmas in 1975, Wednesday's ceremony was as much a lesson as a memorial.
"He didn't give up his life for nothing. He's still an example for me because I use him when I talk to my children about why they shouldn't do drugs," said Kim Singleton, George Singleton's brother.
For Officer Mark MacPhail, this day of remembrance is like every day that he thinks of his father, Mark., Sr., who was killed in the line of duty 28 years ago.
"I've been doing this for almost 29 years now, and every time I hear the bagpipes, every time I hear the 21-gun salute, hearing that horse, that clack of its hooves coming down the street, it brings back 28 years of remembering he's not there," Officer MacPhail said.
For a city, it was a symbol of those lost over a century and a half, but also a reminder of sacrifices still being made today.
"I think today and the memorial services held throughout Police Week across the country clearly show the outpouring for law enforcement here and the ability for law enforcement to be resilient and to continue to do the great work that we do to support and protect the people of our communities," said Clyde Wallace, FBI Atlanta Field Office.
In a proclamation read by Alderwoman Carol Bell, Mayor Eddie DeLoach declared the day, 'Police Memorial Day in Savannah.'