‘These heroes here are remembered'

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:50

    Goshen - Patrolman Edward Dippel died July 14, 1863, during draft riots in New York City following President Abraham Lincoln's order of the first draft in American history. He was wounded when members of a New York infantry regiment opened fire on the home of New York Tribune publisher Horace Greeley. Patrolman Dippel was inside. On Sunday, Nov. 23, 2003, Trooper Jeffrey T. Edelson, 34, a New York State Police officer in Troop F, died in an automobile accident. While Edelson was attempting to stop a motorist, his wheels left the roadway and skidded on the gravel shoulder. These two officers and 21 others were honored at a ceremony on Monday, Sept. 13, at the new Orange County Court House. The occasion was the unveiling of a memorial to Orange County law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty. Patrolman Dippel is the earliest officer listed; Trooper Edelson is the most recent. The memorial is sponsored by Jason Conklin Lodge 957, Fraternal Order of Police. Thomas J. Carton, past president and chairman of the memorial wall committee, said the lodge number is Patrolman Conklin's. He was a member of the Tuxedo Police Department. Patrolman Conklin died during a pursuit of a speeder in the Village of Tuxedo Park when his Ford Expedition flipped over. The vehicle's rear axle had separated, according to a description in the memorial dedication program. Officer Conklin's death at age 22 was a motivating factor in forming the lodge, and his family has established a law enforcement memorial scholarship in his name. Jason's brother, David, is a Monroe Police officer. Police officers have a calling, many of the speakers said. "We don't do it for the money, many of us have to hold two jobs," Thomas Carton told the crowd of well over 100 relatives who attended. "We do it because we want to help people." But the cost has been high, he said. "Wives have raised children without fathers, parents have lost sons, children won't have their fathers to help coach their teams and daughters will not have their fathers to see them off to the prom." And, he told the relatives, "we have gained a lot through your strength." New York State Police Superintendent Wayne E. Bennett noted that 10 of the officers on the list of 23 were New York State troopers. He spoke of the lost opportunities and the lost companionship for the families of those who died in the line of duty. And, he recalled, "these were the people we rode together with. "While the survivors will always have memories of these heroes, future generations won't have any recollection of these officers." This, he said, is why a memorial wall is so important. "As they read each name they will come to the realization that these are individuals who died as a result of being a policeman. The will have a greater appreciation of these 23 people they never knew by who will have made an impression on them." Bennett noted that police officers have an impact on many people who never know them. And, while we remember the heroes of wars, "these heroes are remembered here in Orange County." Bennett cited a poem written by Colleen Dillon Bergman, who designed the memorial wall for State Police officers in Albany. Bergman, in addition to designing the wall, was the daughter of a state trooper. Lines from the poem that are inscribed on that wall read: "It doesn't matter from which department they came, the feeling of loss is experienced the same." Orange County Executive Edward Diana said he was first contacted by Carton about a year ago for help with the wall. Diana offered whatever help the county could muster. "I thank Thomas Carton for allowing me to be part of this ceremony," Diana said. "The 23 officers being honored here are not only heroes, they are our beloved friends and neighbors. Their children go to school with our children. They were mentors to our children, coaching sports." But these officers were also different, Diana said. "They have a calling to protect and serve people. To the police officers here today, who continue to preserve and protect us, as county executive, as a citizen, as a father and as a son, I thank you all." Praise is one thing, but a practical matter was on U.S. Rep. Sue Kelly's mind. "They take risks most of us cannot even imagine," she said. "These men and women are very special and they are impossible to replace. We owe them a debt we can never repay, but we can try. "We can ensure that they earn a respectable wage, with benefits that can care for the families they leave behind," Kelly added. "We can continue to expand the death and disability benefits for police officers, and we can educate their children. We can take care of the wives and husbands and parents they leave behind." "I remember what we learned as children," State Sen. William Larkin said. "Police officers are there to protect us and keep us safe." Members of the families of police officers who died in the line of duty were presented with medals. Representatives of their police departments or units received plaques bearing their names and the dates of their deaths. And then, with the playing of taps, the ceremony was over and the granite monument stood as a reminder of the day and of the officers.