Last week brought National Police Week and, on May 15, National Peace Officers Memorial Day.
Proclaimed by President John F. Kennedy in 1962 and established by a joint resolution of Congress the same year, National Police Week pays recognition to law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
For members of the Cleburne Police Department the week proved one of gratitude and somber reflection.
On the positive side, retired Cleburne firefighter Eddie Norton, now owner of Sign Gypsies, donated a sign reading “Heroes work here. Thank you,” to the police department, which officers promptly placed near CPD’s front entrance. The sign also reads “We’re all in this together” in a nod to both community and the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Cleburne Police Chief Rob Severance said Norton was not alone in showing support for CPD last week.
“We heard from a lot of residents and businesses voicing support and thanking us through the week,” Severance said. “What that means to me personally? Well, this really sums it up I think. I got a Facebook message from a friend I used to work with when I was with the Grand Prairie Police Department. He wrote, ‘It must be nice to work in a community that appreciates its police department.’
“And you know, he’s right. That does mean a lot to me and everyone else at CPD. And it’s times like this when you see and hear that support that make all of us here feel very blessed. It means a lot to all of us to be able to protect and serve the residents of Cleburne. And it also means a lot to hear the community’s appreciation.”
CPD Lt. Gary Moseley agreed.
“We heard from so many in the community last week,” Moseley said. “That’s been especially meaningful this year because, just like everyone else, we’re all going through the COVID-19 situation too. So the support and care from so many in our community does make a difference and does mean a lot to all of us.”
Cleburne officers and others had for the past several years gathered at the Cleburne Memorial Cemetery each May 15 to honor former CPD Chief Marion “Abe” Bledsoe who is, so far as is known, the only CPD officer to have lost his life in the line of duty.
Bledsoe died April 15, 1912, while fighting the fire that destroyed the Johnson County Courthouse. The Cleburne fire occurred the same day the Titanic sank.
Bledsoe felt duty bound to help fight the fire since his younger brother, Baylor Bledsoe, the Cleburne fire chief, was out of town.
Bledsoe died while fighting the fire after the courthouse’s tower and tin roof collapsed trapping him underneath.
Safety precautions related to the COVID-19 crisis canceled this year’s planned ceremony.
Severance nonetheless encourages residents to stop by and pay their respects at Bledsoe’s grave, which is in Block 5 of the cemetery in Lot 24, Space 4.