Somber ceremony honors county's fallen
A somber crowd gathered on Tappan Square Friday morning to honor the police officers who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Lorain County Police Memorial service.
Officers from all departments in Lorain County, as well as officers from departments outside the county, were in attendance to recognize the 15 officers who gave their lives in the line of duty. Also in attendance were friends, family members, and community members.
“I would like to thank all for coming to the service and taking time out of their day to remember those officers who have sacrificed their lives,” Oberlin police chief Tom Miller said. “It’s truly an honor to hold this event in the city of Oberlin.”
The keynote speaker for the event was Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Copley Township, who said it was an honor to attend the event.
“The best way to honor those who have been lost is by supporting those who have been left behind,” she said during her address to the audience. “The police officers, and all law enforcement officers, epitomize what it is to be an American. They are our heroes and our role models. They are a light to shine in the times of darkness.”
The Cleveland Police Department’s Pipe and Drum Corps performed throughout the memorial service, including a sobering presentation that included a single bag piper solo that represented losing an officer. The Ohio State Patrol Band also performed during the ceremony.
A 21-gun salute was given by members of the Avon Lake Police Department near the conclusion of the ceremony.
Perhaps the most stirring part of the ceremony was when an officer from each department that has lost an officer in the line of duty carried a single rose to the podium and laid it on top of a folded American flag as a gesture of respect.
Included in that group was an Oberlin officer who carried a white rose for Patrolman Robert Woodall, who died on March 10, 1971.
Woodall was found after his cruiser ran off Hamilton Street and struck a tree. A three-year veteran of the force, he had been a student at Oberlin College when he joined the department, and was still pursuing his bachelor’s degree at the time of his death.
Woodall was survived by his wife, Christine. His name was also inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.
Also in attendance was Kelly Kerstetter, the sister of Elyria police officer James Kerstetter — who was shot and killed on duty in 2010.
“He loved being a cop,” Sutton said of Kerstetter. “To some who have never worn the badge, who have never patrolled the streets, who have never put themselves in danger, they might not understand. They don’t understand why someone can love something that cuts such a full life down before it’s time.
“What people don’t understand is the reason why James Kerstatter, and everyone of you here, put on the uniform and do what you do is simple. You do it because of your love of community.”