Hundreds of police officers and other officials from across the state gathered in Ocean Grove Tuesday to memorialize four of their fallen comrades at this year's state Law Enforcement Memorial Service.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno gave the keynote address at the ceremony in The Great Auditorium that included mostly songs performed by several police officers to honor their fallen brethren.
Detective Tina Rambo of the Ocean Country Prosecutor's Office, Trooper Anthony R. Fotiou of the New Jersey State Police, Patrolman S. Wargo Jr. of the Mount Arlington Police Department and Detective Michael Morgan Jr of the Newark Police Department were honored.
"We're here to remember the good of all people, but especially the good of people who were taken far too soon. The weight of sadness that comes across us like a tidal wave as we try to understand what was left by the senseless death of good people," Guadagno said.
Black sheets were draped across dozens of rows of chairs on both sides of the massive auditorium, each adorned with the names of all the state's police that have died in the line of duty since the mid-1850s.
"Your collective presence here sends a powerful message about the deep honor, support and debt of gratitude that we owe to all the families, friends, neighbors and loved ones of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice," Guadagno said.
Guadagno said that she didn't come to talk, but to sing and pray with the families, friends and loved ones of those who gave their lives.
"It's hard to find the words to describe our purpose here today. Especially look at the empty chairs and the significance of what we're doing here comes alive," Guadagno said.
As she spoke, the audience was surrounded by the New Jersey Law Enforcement Honor Guards, commanded by Lt. Robert Kneer of the Fair Lawn Police Department.
"These heroes were our heroes, who stood for all that is good in our state," she said. "The front lines of law enforcement do this for us every day — give their all for us every day."
After Guadagno's remarks, the New Jersey United Pipe Band played "Amazing Grace," which was followed by a policeman's tribute version of the song performed by Officer Michelle Hollins of the Florence Township Police Department.
"It is the connection ultimately to the strangers who they are sworn to protect, who they are to assume great risk in doing that protection that makes them truly amazing. You are truly heroes," Guadagno said.