Fallen first responders honored in Jacksonville Wednesday

JACKSONVILLE, NC (WITN) - Fallen first responders were honored across the nation Wednesday, including in Eastern North Carolina.

Jacksonville leaders, first responders, and community members gathered at the city's recently updated Public Safety Memorial Fountain to honor it's most recent addition of a marble plaque, which features two engraved names.

"I was very fortunate to work with these 2 men who's names are on the wall here", said Mayor Sammy Phillips, a former Jacksonville police officer of 30 years.

Jacksonville last lost an officer more than 30 years ago. That timeframe, however, does not reflect the unfortunate reality in other communities.

An officer from Iredell County, from the Mooresville Police Department, was killed 9 days ago. A moment of silence was held in his honor during the Jacksonville ceremony.

Jacksonville Police Chief Michael Yaniero said, "I think we're fortunate. In our country, I know that there's been a rise in police deaths, but I think that's something we have to work on and be as safe as we can be."

A 21-gun solute rang out at the end of the ceremony. When asked about the current state of law enforcement relations with the local community, Yaniero pointed to Jacksonville's military presence.

"The Marine Corps, being the first responders for incidents in the world, there is that kind of bond, and I think that bond makes them more appreciative of what we do"

While Peace Officer Memorial Day is intended to remember officers who have died in the line of duty, many leaders said they are honoring the sacrifices of all first responders, both living and fallen.