MIAMI (CBSMiami) — An undercover Miami-Dade police officer ambushed and shot during an investigation in late July attended a sobering ceremony Wednesday morning to honor fallen officers who died serving and protecting our community.

Detective John Saavedra, who was wounded in the line of duty, is thankful he’s not one of the fallen.

Det. Saavedra said he was humbled at the ceremony where the crowd paused to hail him as a hero.

“This is something that I’ve always dreamed of since I was a child, to become a police officer. I’ve always wanted to help my community and that’s what I’ve done for the last ten years and that’s what I will continue to do for the rest of my career,” Saavedra told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench. “I’m honored to be among my fellow members families, the survivors and it’s a privilege to be here today.”

The 35-year-old Saavedra was shot three times when the bullets hit below his bullet proof vest in a shootout at a Southwest Miami-Dade marijuana grow house on July 31st.

Saavedra also said, “It makes me proud to be part of this ceremony honoring those killed in the line of duty. This was very emotional and was a humbling excperience. It makes me sad to be so close to people who have lost their lives serving the community. It makes me see life in a different way.”

The 35-year-old Saavedra was shot three times when the bullets hit below his bullet proof vest in a shootout at a Southwest Miami-Dade marijuana grow house on July 31st.

“I have a lot of pain and still have a long road to recovery but overall I’m better and I’m alive which is the most important part.”

Saavedra was honored, along with 137 officers, who were killed in the line of duty since 1895.

The fallen officers were remembered with 137 black T-shirts with the words, “I Died For You” in the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in downtown Miami.

“Like everybody, I feel very, very sad,” said Ofelia Gonzalez, mother of slain officer Evelyn Gort. “But at the same time, it gives me some pleasure that everybody still remembers her.” Detective Evelyn Gort was shot and killed when she attempted to arrest an armed robbery in 1993.

The father of fallen officer Amanda Haworth also attended the event.

“Her memory is still alive and she’s a hero, she was a hero, she still is a hero and we’re just very honored to be part of all this,” said Bob Haworth. Haworth and her partner Roger Castillo were both killed while serving an arrest warrant on a murder suspect in January 2011.

Det. Saavedra hopes to return to duty within the next six months.

“It’s an amazing feeling to see the amount of support that I received from the community. Not just my family and colleagues but also the community played a big part in this.”

The Dade County PBA’s “Fallen Officer Tribute” will be on display during the month of September. Each day, the names of all 137 fallen officers will be announced on a public address system. Det. Saavedra said he’s eternally grateful that he is not the 138th name.

“I am also very humbled by the people who prayed for me as well,” Saavedra said Wednesday afternoon as he held a newsconference at Miami-Dade Police headquarters and spoke to the media as his wife sat beside him.

Saavedra said this incident makes him cherish his family more than ever.

“I try to prepare them for this,” he said. “But this is something I love to do. This is what I chose to do and with it, there are consequences, such as I could lose my life. And so when I leave for work, I kiss my wife and kids and realize that this could be the last time I am doing this.”

“I’m feeling well,” Saavedra said. “I am definitely looking forward to going back to work some day.”


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