(ROCKWALL, TX – Oct 5, 2015) U. S. Congressman John Ratcliffe (TX-04) addressed a crowd at Rest Haven Memorial Park in Rockwall this morning, during the dedication of a new First Responders Memorial in the Public Servants Garden.
Dewayne Cain, President and Founder of of Rest Haven Funeral Homes and Memorial Park, opened the public ceremony.
“This monument is the first in Rockwall County that recognizes the police, the firemen, and the EMTs. In addition to showing our appreciation to each of our first responders today, we want to acknowledge the importance of their role in our nation, and their role right here in our community. Today we especially recognize those that live and work within our immediate area,” Cain said.
The monument is 9-foot, dome-shaped sculpture created to honor first responders by providing a place of reflection and tribute to their service. It features three open-air panels portraying a firefighter, a police officer and an EMT. The 6-foot panels are also embossed with the bronze emblem of each first responder.
“Today we honor first responders from the City of Heath Department of Public Safety, the City of Rockwall – the police department and fire department, Rockwall County Sheriff’s Office represented by Sheriff Harold Eavenson, the deputies, the Sheriff’s Posse, Rockwall County Constables, Rockwall County EMS, City of Fate DPS, City of Royse City Police and Fire, City of Rowlett Police, Fire and Rescue.”
And he added, “Every life matters. EVERY life matters.”
Cain thanked Gary Westphal, whom Cain said the Public Servants Garden wouldn’t have been possible without, as Westphal was seeking a cemetery with a special place to inter his father, Roy Westphal.
The area serves as a sacred resting place for public servants, and is also a permanent, visual reminder of the sacrifices made every day by our firefighters, police officers and EMTs.
Congressman Ratcliffe took the podium to share his thoughts and reflections.
“A few months ago, the whole country had their eyes fixed here on Texas, in the wake of an attempted terrorist attack just across the lake over in Garland, when two radical Muslims wearing body armor and carrying assault rifles came to Texas for the purpose – the sole purpose – of slaughtering Texans. It was a quick thinking Garland police officer doing exactly what he was trained to do, acting decisively, shooting both terrorists, and in the process saving untold lives,” Ratcliffe said. “Now that incident garnered a lot of national attention, but one of the great privileges that I’ve had already in my first year in Congress has been going around this area, in the district that I represent, for the 18 counties in the 4th Congressional District, to thank so many men and women – first responders – police, fire, paramedics, each and every day for many less publicized but equally selfless acts that happened right here in our own communities.”
Ratcliffe reflected on the many brave souls that arrived at the burning Twin Towers on September 11th in police cars, fire trucks and ambulances with the words “To Protect and To Serve” on the side of their vehicles. “Now those words are more than just a slogan; those words are a promise…The men and women in uniform here uphold the pillars of law and order that our society depends on.”
“Thousands of first responders go to work each and every day and knowing the danger…They show up in the face of violence, they show up in the face of danger, they show up in the face of conflict, they show up in the face of natural disasters – all because they’re committed to serving others, as part of the job. Our first responders serve as a critical link between our nation’s security and our preparedness…you’re often the first to identify a potential new threat or different threat or recognize a larger trend that’s going on in our communities, and in that respect, you’re more than just first responders; you’re first preventers.”
“Because of that, I find it incredibly appalling and sad that some of our first responders – namely our police – have had a wave of violence directed at them recently simply because they’re wearing a uniform. To those who think that this violence against our first responders is some sort of acceptable form of social protest, my message to you is very clear; your actions are outrageously wrong. Your actions to disrespect those in uniform are no different than if you were disrespecting thosee in the uniform of our Armed Forces – because they all protect and serve.”
Ratcliffe added that “we shouldn’t need something terrible to happen for us to be reminded just how fortunate we are as a community to be protected by such well trained and dedicated men and women who serve us,” and remarked that we should honor and support our first responders each and every day.
During the event, flowers were presented to two special families. Cain recognized Debbie Adams, whose husband James was the first fireman to be interred in Rest Haven’s Public Servants Garden in June of 2014, after losing his battle with cancer.
Cain also presented flowers to Wilma Westphal, representing her husband Roy William Westphal, the first police officer to be interred in that special place in October 2014.
The ceremony concluded with the crowd standing and pledging allegiance to the United States of America. Guests were treated to lunch, generously provided by Joe Willy’s Market & Grill.
For more information, please call Sharon Satterwhite at 972-771-8641, or visit the Rest Haven website at resthavenfuneral.com.
Story by Dawn Redig, Blue Ribbon News. Photos by Blue Ribbon News/BRN Media.
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