Remembering those who gave all
A cold breeze off Lake Erie did not deter a large crowd from attending a special event in Memorial Park. Police officers from Dunkirk, Fredonia, Olean, Salamanca, along with retired officers, Brocton Correctional officers, family members and others interested, were present as the Badge of Honor Association unveiled signs honoring eight officers who died in the line of duty.
Included in that list was Dunkirk Police Department’s Patrolman George Nelson, Lt. J. Harry Knollman and Lt. Mark M. Elfman; Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Glenn N. Peters; Jamestown Patrolman George Kendall; Olean Captain Timothy Hassett; Salamanca Sgt. Perry F. Barrett and Allegany County Deputy Sheriff Derek P. Ward.
Rochester Police Department Officer Michael Ciulla served as master of ceremonies for the event, which lasted some 25 minutes.
Ciulla began by stating “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
“We’re here to honor eight brave men who made the ultimate sacrifice for their community. We’re not here solely to recount how these grand men died, but how they lived their lives,” Ciulla continued. “There is little that can be said here that cannot be amply demonstrated other than by the sheer eloquence of their example. Save this: that these heroes shall not be forgotten, their deeds will not be allowed to pass from memory, they shall not be left unhonored or unsung.
“I am reminded here of the words of Winston Churchill: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
Dunkirk Mayor Anthony J. Dolce was next to speak, welcoming everyone to Dunkirk and Memorial Park.
“My appreciation goes out to the Badge of Honor Association for this commitment in organizing this tremendous cause across the state, and to our Dunkirk PBA President Mark Gruber for his work on today’s event,” Dolce stated. “As we are gathered here today to honor the brave men and women who have paid the ultimate price in the line of duty, let us remember that the job of insuring public safety is not one that we as citizens should take for granted. As mayor, I’ve had the privilege of working with and witnessing the men and women of our police department in action. I find their dedication and willingness to keep our residents safe and put themselves in harm’s way, irreproachable.
“Events such as this remind us what it takes at times to insure such safety.”
BOHA President Justin Collins explained the organization began seven years ago with a goal of honoring officers killed in the line of duty, and raising money for their families. Currently covering 23 counties, Collins said the goal is to cover all counties in the state.
“I’ve been waiting for this day a long time to come down here and meet some of the men and women who serve this part of the state, just a tremendous day, I’m overwhelmed,” Collins stated. “I’m really, really glad that so many of you came out to support and to honor these men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice. We do this because we believe and we have a passion to honor law enforcement.”
Collins addressed family members present to honor their deceased relative.
“It means so much for us to meet you as well. I think folks forget sometimes the sacrifices family members made, losing their loved ones, generations and generations after,” he said. “I’m thankful you’re here and my heart goes out to them.”
Police department officials from Salamanca, Allegany County and Olean spoke of their fallen officers before retired Jamestown Police Department officer Art Osterdahl took to the microphone.
Osterdahl told how Kendall was killed during a domestic disturbance in Brooklyn Square almost 99 years ago. Osterdahl also noted the JPD’s bargaining unit is named after Kendall.
Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office was represented by Deputy Tina Holtz, who recounted the accident that took the life of Lt. Glenn Norman Peters.
Dunkirk’s Gruber was next.
“It isn’t often we can stand together and honor men like this, but we should do it more often. Lt. (Mark) Timmerman, if you can help unveil our sign so everyone can see as we honor these men,” Gruber said.
Ciulla closed the event and thanked all those who helped after explaining a big reason he is involved with BOHA, to honor those officers who have gone before him.
“The names of officers who have lighted the way, who have made my badge that much more shiny. In times like these I’m reminded of a section of a poem by Alfred Tennyson,” Ciulla added. “Though much is taken, much abides. And though we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are. What equal the more of heroic parts made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive to seek to find and not to yield.”
Ciulla later explained BOHA, which began in 2007, is not just about signs.
“Since then seven officers have died in our coverage area and we raise funds for their families,” he said. “This is just part of what we do, honoring those who have gone before us. … It’s important to us that these signs go up, that the memories are not forgotten, these men’s deeds not pass from memory.”
BOHA’s next stops include Buffalo and then Syracuse. The signs will be placed by the jurisdictions.
Dunkirk Police Chief David Ortolano liked the turnout for the event to honor those who have “paid the ultimate sacrifice in law enforcement.”
“I think the best way we can honor them is by not forgetting them. These signs, which will be posted in our community and throughout other communities in Chautauqua, Allegany and Cattaraugus counties, is the best way to remember our brothers and sisters that have paid that sacrifice. We ask that God bless all of our law enforcement brothers and sisters that are out there every day and we ask people to pray for their safety.”
The Dunkirk sign will be placed in Memorial Park, to be joined eventually by a monument to the fallen officers the PBA is working to erect.
Andy Elfman, son of Lt. Elfman, was one of four siblings to attend the event. He was in the fifth grade at the time of his father’s death.
“It’s a new thing they’re doing and it’s good, people forget,” he stated. “There’s not a lot of positive you can say; you’ve got 17 kids that did without a parent. That’s a bad thing, everybody hurts because of that.”
The Dunkirk Joint Veterans Council Honor Guard provided the opening salute and prayer, followed by a 21-gun salute. Sandy Tapasto read “A Police Officer’s Prayer.”
“Dear God, protect these brave men and women, grant them your almighty protection, unite them safely with their families after duty has ended,” the prayer closed.
A luncheon at Rookies on the Lake followed the event.
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