MIAMI (CBSMiami) – An annual ceremony, in its 35th year, honored fallen law enforcement officers at Tropical Park in Miami-Dade Thursday night.
Even after more than three decades, the memorial always draws huge crowds and is always emotional.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers in their crisp uniforms honored their fallen brothers and sisters of the badge killed in the line of duty across Miami-Dade County.
Symbolic traditions filled the memorial like the sound of bagpipes, flag presentations to loved ones and the rider-less horse.
This year’s guest speaker was newly appointed Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez.
“The reason we are here is for you the family members and the names on that wall,” Director Perez started. “We’ll never forget those sacrifices. The day we stop being law enforcement, this community fails.”
Also speaking to the silent crowd were survivors like Rosemary Zore, who said she thinks of her father each.
Robert Zore was an officer with MDPD when he was shot and killed Christmas Eve 1983 when Rosemary was seven.
“My last memory of my father is when he left our family dimmer on Christmas Eve to take a call,” Ms. Zore told the crowd. “I remember him kissing me goodbye and telling me he would see me in the morning to open my gifts from Santa. That never happened.”
Most somber of all, a roll call of all 139 local, state and federal law enforcement officers killed while on duty across Miami-Dade County from 1865 and 2011.
A 21-gun salute, multi-agency chopper fly over, sirens and lights everywhere punctuating the night before a final moment of silence.