Jaidyn Letcher is Detective Letcher’s grandson. Detective John Letcher died two years ago.
The St. Petersburg Police Department’s (First) Annual Candlelight Vigil Memorial Service was held on Monday, May 20, 2013. The event commenced at 7:30 p.m. at the Heroes of the St. Petersburg Police Law Enforcement Memorial at Demens Landing Park in downtown St. Petersburg. The park entrance is located at First Avenue South and Bayshore Drive.
This year was the first memorial service since the monument was completed and dedicated in October of 2012. It was presented to the City of St. Petersburg by the Heroes of the St. Pete Police, Inc., a non-profit organization.
The service started a tradition of a candlelight vigil during the month of May commemorating police officers, past and present, who by their faithful and loyal devotion have rendered a dedicated service to their community. An engraved, ceremonial bell was brought to the site and rung once for each fallen officer as their name was read. The solid brass 24 pound bell is engraved with “St. Petersburg Police – Fortis Heroes” and will be kept at the police station during the year. The bell’s clear tone rang out in remembrance in the beautiful waterfront park.
Although this ceremony commemorated the fifteen fallen officers of the St. Petersburg Police Department, it honors all officers that have lost their lives or have become disabled in the performance of their duty.
The public was invited to the May 20th event to remember our fallen officers and to share our respect and reverence for the dedication of all law enforcement officers with all members of our community.
The following is the email text of a message sent by Lane Goodson, the only child of Officer James Julian Goodson (October 21, 1909 – December 25, 1947), after attending the monument dedication.
October 17, 2012
Mr. Kyle Nelson
Board of the Heroes of the St. Petersburg Police
St. Petersburg, FL
Dear Mr. Nelson:
Thank you and the Board of the Heroes of the St. Petersburg Police for inviting us to the dedication of the police memorial. Also, thank you for providing for the local accommodations that made it easier and more comfortable for us to come and participate.
We also want to commend you for the incredible program. It was obvious that a great amount of thought and work were involved in planning and carrying out the service. It was a once-in-a-lifetime program that was perfect for memorializing the sacrifice of the fallen officers. We could not have wanted anything more to demonstrate honor and respect to them and their dedication and service to the people of St. Petersburg.
The Bagpiper playing Amazing Grace was phenomenal, as was the Presentation of Colors that followed.
The welcome and introduction of dignitaries was informational, and especially the words from the
monument engineer. It was touching that the board acknowledged they could not have done it alone.
Although it was sobering when you introduced the families of the fallen officers, the scripture reading and prayer were altogether fitting and proper. We especially appreciated the slow presentation of the wreath as the names of the officers were called out by the Chief. The helicopter flyover went above and beyond what we expected. We were thrilled by the parade of the beautiful black horse, but saddened by the empty saddle and boots. Finally, the 21 gun salute and Taps were a satisfying ending, especially when followed by the Bagpiper’s soft rendition of “Going Home.”
Everything that was done to welcome us and the other guests as well as provide information and assistance is greatly appreciated. The Board members were friendly and helpful and kept answering our questions, taking time to point out things we needed to know and looking out for us in every way.
We would be remiss, too, if we failed to mention the magnificence of the Memorial Monument. The black marble statue with the police officer cutout is stunning, and the aluminum wall behind it with the names, provides a spectacular reminder of why it is there. The waterfront setting could not be improved upon for peace and beauty, as well as accessibility. It will undoubtedly attract both casual and special visitors and speaks of St. Petersburg as a city that honors its public servants.
Thank you all for creating it and making this a wonderful and rewarding occasion we will never forget.
With Sincere and Heartfelt Thanks,
Lane and Betty Jo Goodson
Lane is the only child of Officer James Julian Goodson (October 21, 1909 – December 25, 1947)
New pavers will be laid down later this year. To find out how to get your engraved paver, please visit our Pavers page here.