Upper Peninsula Peace Officers Memorial Service in Norway
By LISA M. REED
NORWAY – Seventy-three fallen officers were honored and remembered at the 18th Annual Upper Peninsula Peace Officers Memorial Service held at the Norway High School Auditorium on Wednesday.
The event began with a police procession of 40 police vehicles from the U.P. and Wisconsin law enforcement agencies who traveled from Recreation Lanes in Iron Mountain to the Norway-Vulcan Area Schools.
Michigan State Police Chaplain Bagpiper Jay Martin led officers into the auditorium, which was followed by the posting of colors by Sgt. John Flitton of the Michigan State Police Iron Mountain Post.
Norway High School Vocal Jazz Choir and Halie Scott, a Norway High School student sang the American National Anthem and the Canadian National Anthem under the direction of Director Dawn Kranz.
The welcome was given by Norway School Superintendent Louis Steigerwald and City Manager Ray Anderson. F/Lt. Christine Grabowski of the Michigan State Police was the master of the ceremonies.
Dickinson County Sheriff Scott Celello discussed Project Blue Ribbon, which remembers law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty. It also recognizes and honors their survivors and pays tribute to all law enforcement officers who serve and protect their communities daily.
He referred to the civilized society and chaos of being a police officer to a thin blue line.
Celello said as an honor and respect to officers during National Police Officer’s Week, blue ribbons are put on car antennas or worn as a pin on clothing.
Keynote speaker Dickinson County District Court Judge Christopher Ninomiya said police officers are taken for granted.
“Often we don’t think about them until they are needed. It’s human nature to take certain things for granted. It’s easy to get angry or upset when you’re issued a speeding or parking ticket,” Ninomiya said. “They are just doing their job. That officer may be the same person you may be calling upon in your darkest hour.”
Ninomiya added officers should always be treated with dignity, honor and respect.
“Their families say goodbye to them each morning/night not knowing if they will come home,” he said. “Their job is incredibly dangerous and in all respect a thankless job. They want to protect and serve their community because they generally care and it takes a special type of person to go into law enforcement.”
Norway Police Chief James Shafer said Officer Kenneth Moraska, who died in the line of duty on May 23, 1971 will always be remembered.
At the age of 26, Moraska was found shot to death on the steps of a home on Pearney Lane in Norway.
The suspect was sentenced to life in prison for first degree murder.
“He was a well-liked and respected officer,” Shafer said. “He is survived by his wife and son.”
Kenneth Moraska’s family members laid a wreath for him during the ceremony.
Those included his mother, son, Dean Moraska of Vulcan; grandson, Chase Moraska; 5, and wife, Ann Marie Moraska of Norway.
Ann Marie Moraska said the ceremony is a nice tribute to her late husband.
“It’s wonderful. It’s a great time for all of us to get together,” she said.
Ninomiya added Moraska’s loss is still felt by the community.
Ninomiya, prosecutor for Dickinson County from 1993 to 2008, said in the 20 years he has worked with the local law enforcement, he has never heard any of them complain or voice regret.
“They are proud and it’s an honor for them to serve their community. They may lay awake or have nightmares, but there is something truly inspiring about that type of devotion,” Ninomiya said. “They do wonderful things and are not appreciated for the little things they do. Keep this in perspective, because of them help is only a phone call away.”
On Wednesday, 19,000 names of fallen law enforcement officers were read at a memorial service held in Washington D.C.
“It’s not how they died that made them heroes, but how they lived,” Ninomiya said.
Houghton County Sheriff Brian McLean discussed the death of James Pollock.
Pollock, who died on Oct. 8, 1913, was added to the names of fallen U.P. officers this year.
The department recently learned of his death.
According to newspaper articles, McLean said Pollock’s tragic death was the result of a skirmish with local miners at the Isle Royal Mine one week prior to him being shot in the head. He said one miner was later acquitted for the death of 33-year-old Pollock.
Roll call of fallen officers was read by Iron Mountain Police Chief Pete Flaminio, Kingsford Public Safety Director Tim Gussert and Dickinson County Undersheriff Scott Rutter. Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Richards rang the bell after each name was called.
The Norway High School Vocal Jazz Choir sang “You Raise Me Up.”
Mackinac County Sheriff Scott Strait presented a traveling plaque to Dickinson County Law Enforcement.
The plaque is in honor of the 35 fallen officers from the U.P. who died unexpectedly in the line of duty from 1885 to 2009. The 73 fallen peace officers honored during this ceremony were U.P. natives and from Ontario, Canada areas bordering the U.P. and Wisconsin bordering agencies.
“I encourage all of you to look at the names on the plaque, and when you do so you may be surprised that you may know of or be related to one of them,” Strait said. “Lest we never forget these peace officers who gave their all. We may soon be adding another name, and I hope I’m wrong. They died honoring heroism and sacrifice in the highest degree.”
Strait added, “All officers left behind loved ones.”
Pollock’s name will be added to traveling plaque that was the initiative of and donated by retired Police Chief George Johnson of the Marquette City Police Department. It is maintained by the U.P. Criminal Justice Association.
Representatives from Carl Levin and Dan Benishek’s offices also attended the event.
A 21 gun salute was given by the Emergency Support Team of the Michigan State Police, taps/echo taps were given by Jeremiah Cowling and Tiffany Peterson, Norway High School students.
Benediction was by Chaplain Martin. Retire colors were by the American Legion Post 50 of Iron Mountain with a bagpiper recessional.
The memorial takes place on the day that President John F. Kennedy set aside in 1962 to honor fallen peace officers.
President Kennedy proclaimed the week of May 15 at “National Police Week.”
Lisa M. Reed’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.