Local News

Officers Immortalized at D.C. Memorial

Posted May 13, 1998

— The victims of the Golphin brothers are among six fallen law officers from North Carolina honored Wednesday night in our nation's capital. Their names, along with 300 others, were added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

It was an awesome tribute, truly worth of the people who have been immortalized on the memorial. When WRAL decided to do the story on the memorial, the primary focus was to be the service. But after spending time with the people at the memorial, the focus shifted to them, people who truly care.

There is honor and respect here. It comes from small towns like Sharpsburg, NC. You see it. You feel it. It draws you here.

"Everyone is coming up and introducing themselves," said an unidentified visitor. "They are hugging your neck. They know what you're going through."

Everywhere on this elliptical memorial are tiny, personalized tributes-- showings of love. But to experience the memorial, you have to kneel down, touch it and take something away from it. It's a place to remember, to connect again, to heal.

"For a very long time, it's been hard to do any kind of grieving," said Alison Godwin, widow of fallen officer Earl Godwin, "especially being the mother of a two year old."

But there is no hiding the pain. It hangs heavy in hushed voices and mournful deep stares. It is hard.

"It's a shame this monument has to exist," explained a male visitor, as he sketched over the name of Detective Paul Hale. Attorney General Janet Reno addressed the mourners by saying "we've got to try harder."

We cannot become complacent. We've got to make sure every single one of our officers has the training they need to do the job and to protect themselves."

Ten-thousand candles, not even one for each name on the memorial, were held up to the thin blue line, civilization's last line of defense against lawlessness. Lastly, a final show of unity-- the reading of the new names; the act of closure.

"Walter David Hathcock," sounds out from the silence. The fallen Cumberland County deputy's wife, Barbara, was there just hours after her husband's killers were sentenced to death.

A total of 24 names from North Carolina were actually added to the memorial. Many of the officers died many years ago under forgotten circumstances. Wednesday, they were memorialized. There are a total of 14,000 names currently on the memorial. Unfortunately, there is still room for half as many more.

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