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20120518_Mission_Honors_FallenMISSION — The Mission Police Department joined several local law enforcement agencies, Mission Fire Department and Mission Historical Museum to honor those who have fallen during their service.

Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas said the city would never forget those that have lost their lives and given their lives to make our community safer.

Salinas said the community has plenty of support from other agencies in the area.

Mission Police Chief Martin Garza said the city takes pride and honor to pay tribute to those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice while working for the police and fire department.

One of the reason’s Mission is a safe place to live is because of the strong relationship police have with the state, federal and local agencies, said Garza.

“The day your loved one joined the force is the same day that you to became a part of the law enforcement community and family,” Garza said to families of officers. “Today is not a sad day. Today is a celebration. A celebration of the lives of our past heroes and our heroes that are present with us today.”

Garza said he is blessed to work and serve with 146 police officers that are committed to service.

Before the ceremony, Garza gave a challenge coin to all of the police officers. He said it was a token of appreciation. It reads four words the department stands for – community, trust, integrity and accountability.

It gives a message and a challenge to officers, said Garza. Protect with courage and serve with compassion. This is how fallen heroes served and residents can continue expecting from officers.

“That’s the type of service we inspire our officers to give to the community,” he said. “We want them to instill that in their hearts and minds.”

The old police station, where memories of our fallen heroes are displayed, is a place where many of those families walked the halls and visited their loved ones.

“They will always be in our hearts and minds forever,” said Garza.

Department of Public Safety Commander Joe Rodriguez said safety comes at a very high price. In 2011, 173 federal, state and local officers lost their lives. Thirteen of those were from Texas, said Rodriguez.

“Their commitment to protecting the lives of others cost them their own,” Rodriguez said. “We all know there is no greater sacrifice than that.”

When speaking to a mother of a fallen trooper, Rodriguez recalled the mother asking if it was worth the risk.

“My response to her was, all of our officers pay this sacrifice for what America believes in and that is our freedom,” he said.

Local authorities read 44 names of fallen peace officers from the Rio Grande Valley.

The museum will have several of them honored by displays in their exhibit on the first floor of the old Mission Police Station at 200 E. Tom Landry. Garza encouraged residents to take the time to visit and wants schools as well to take advantage of the exhibit.

They were part of the community, Garza said. They lived here, went to school here, and worked here.

It’s a way to recognize and remember those public servants of the city, said Garza.

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