PLYMOUTH TOWNSHIP (WWJ) – At the intersection of Hines Drive and Haggerty in Plymouth Township, a seven-panel, black granite wall bears the names of 401 fallen first responders, most of them from Detroit.
A dedication ceremony was held Thursday for the Wayne County First Responders Memorial, honoring fallen police, fire and emergency medical services personnel within the county.
County officials, police officers, firefighters and family members of those who lost their lives in the line of duty spoke during Thursday’s dedication, which concluded with a wreath-laying ceremony.
Leading the dedication, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano said the memorial, “pays tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice to help others.”
Among those in attendance was the wife of Detroit Police Officer Jerry Philpott, who died in the line of duty in May of 1995.
“At the beginning I think you’re a victim,” Diane Philpott said, “because somebody just took your loved one away and you don’t know what to do.”
“But you eventually find strength in their memory and from other people; and that eventually takes over from the hurt that was inflicted upon you and that kinda changes who you are — from the victim to the survivor,” she said.
Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw says seven State Troopers have been killed in the line of duty in Wayne County. The
first was back in 1922. The memorial wall, he believes, serves as a public reminder.
“We just suffered Trooper Butterfield’s loss,” said Shaw, “and a lot of times you see a lot of media coverage; you see the pomp and circumstances, but the day after it’s pretty much gone.
“You’ve got a family that’s left behind that’s missing a loved one, and you kinda forget about those memories,” Shaw said. “And I think that it’s a good idea to put these things on a wall so people can come over here and remember those troopers, and those officers, and those first responders who have fallen.”
The $400,000 memorial includes monuments, seat walls, concrete walkways and a paver plaza, as well as parking and lighting.
The memorial is being paid for through the county’s parks and recreation millage.