LUMBERTON — With the memory of a Lumberton police officer who was killed in the line of duty still fresh, about 100 people gathered Wednesday to honor law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Included among them were relatives of Master Police Officer Jeremiah Goodson, who was shot to death on July 17, 2012, while trying to make an arrest. The names of Goodson and 14 other law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty were called out at the county’s 21st annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service, which is sponsored by the Robeson County Law Enforcement Association.
The ceremony, which was held in front of the Law Enforcement Building at Robeson Community College, also featured a presentation of colors and a 21-gun salute.
“When a police officer is killed, it’s not a police agency’s loss, but the whole nation’s,” Sheriff Kenneth Sealey said. “They are all true heroes, yet they all would say, ‘I’m only doing my job.’”
Listening nearby were Goodson’s wife Lemetria, who sat with about a dozen other relatives of the slain officer. Lemetria Goodson did not want to comment to a reporter for this story.
Other speakers included state Reps. Garland Pierce and Charles Graham and City Councilman Erich Hackney, who also works with the district attorney’s office as an investigator.
Hackney presented the Robeson County Law Enforcement Association with an $1,800 check from the city for a new memorial to replace the old one, which filled up with names of the deceased. Graham also made a donation, but the amount was unclear.
Larry McNeill, retired captain of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke campus police and president of the Robeson County Law Enforcement Association, underlined the day-to-day peril that comes with the job of being a law enforcement officer.
“An officer does not know when he leaves home if he is going to be coming back or not,” McNeill said. “Trouble is out there — support your law enforcement.”
Rowland police Chief John Reaves said he elected to wear his blue uniform instead of white during the ceremony to honor active law enforcement officers.
“I would love to ask them a question: ‘Would you do it all over again?’” Reaves said of the officers being honored. “I don’t know anyone on this list that would say no.”
Pierce said the fallen officers will never be forgotten.
“They are our very own angels that strive to protect us from hurt, harm and danger,” Pierce said. “They go above and beyond to ensure that each one of us lives without fear … . Their legacy will live on here in Robeson County and North Carolina.”
The following officers were honored Wednesday. The dates of when they died are also included.
Officer Marshall Atkinson, Red Springs Police Department, July 21, 1899; Chief P.C. Oaks, Raeford Police Department, Aug. 31, 1912; Deputy J.A. Kithin, Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, July 2, 1920; Chief Marion Rogers, Rowland Police Department, Dec. 26, 1925; Chief Robert Casey Jones, Rowland Police Department, July 1928; Chief Vance McGill, Lumberton Police Department, Nov. 18, 1936; Patrol Officer Albert M. Howell, Raeford Police Department, Sept. 14, 1940; Deputy William T. Nye, Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, Jan. 5, 1949; Trooper James Mashburn, state Highway Patrol, Sept. 10, 1964; Office Robert J. Furmage Jr., Division of Motor Vehicles, Jan. 20, 1970; Trooper Larry T. Walton, state Highway Patrol, Dec. 2, 1972; Detective Arthur W. Oxendine, Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, Oct. 1, 1993; Deputy William McCormick, Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, Nov. 21, 1998; Captain Robbie E. Bishop, Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, Jan. 20, 1999; and Master Police Officer Jeremiah M. Goodson Jr., Lumberton Police Department, July 17, 2012.