Monday, September 27, 2010

In Memory of Brian...

A few weeks ago, a terrible tragedy occurred in our community. Deputy Brian Harris was killed in the line of duty. Still, almost a month later, I don't have the words to express my feelings about what a great loss this is for all of us, and especially for his family. I was privileged to get to photograph his funeral and graveside service and wanted to share just a few of those photos.

First, there was the candlelight vigil the Sunday night after he was killed. We went to express our love to the family and to be united in our support for them and in our feelings of loss.

I don't know how many came to the viewing - both the night before the funeral and the morning of, but it was an incredible amount of people. We stood in line about an hour and a half. There were tables all along the line with pictures of Brian and his family and pages for people to write on. There was also a slide show playing in several places along the way.

I never get rid of any photos that I take for people and this is why: This family portrait is one I took of the Harris family last year.

(That little pillow in front of the photo is also one I made and sold at a school fundraiser a few years ago - kind of surprised to see it again.)

I also took the photo of Brian and his parents and brothers and sister here in the left of the frame - I was so glad that I had these.

Officers came from every police agency in the state and there were many from all around the country.

The wives of the sheriff's department made this amazing quilt:

The slide show had several of my photos included in it - of the whole family and some of Brian with his girls at the daddy/daughter dances from the last two years.

I tried to take photos of the different patches from the arms of the officers who were there. I didn't get nearly as many as I would have liked, but here are a few:

I had a chance to visit with two members of the Honor Guard from Ada County, Idaho. I was impressed by how impeccably turned out they were in their dress uniforms and I asked if I could take their photo. They had traveled a long way and I felt very appreciative to them - and all the visiting law enforcement - for coming to honor Brian.

The funeral was held in our new high school gym to accommodate everyone. It was also piped in to several different locations where people could attend through live broadcast.

The roads around the school were closed off and there was a line of motorcycles parked from the school almost clear to the highway.

After the funeral, Brian's brothers took him from the building, down a corridor of saluting officers to the waiting hearse and the procession headed to Glendale to the graveside service.

The motorcycle portion of the procession:

Very impressive.

I love our community - all along the procession route, there were folks holding flags and signs:

I was able to ride to the cemetery with some family members and I was very touched the by the outpouring of support along the way.

This huge flag was hung from cranes across the road leading to the Glendale Cemetery

And above the school, some local boys had placed a flag on "the V", our local Valley landmark, standing for Valley High School where Brian had graduated in 1987.

At the graveside, it took a while for all the officers to get there and to form a double line from the cemetery entrance to the gravesite.

Brian was taken from the hearse and placed in his own County Sheriff's truck for the last leg of his journey.

After the dedication of the grave, the color guard folded the flags and presented them to the family.

It was a very sober and touching ceremony, one I won't soon forget.

There was also an honor guard which gave a 21 gun salute and played the bugle.

The pallbearers - Brian's brothers, brother-in-law, and nephews, placed their boutonnieres on the casket, and Brian's second family - the member's of the sheriff's department - each added a rose.

Brian was the first officer to ever be killed in the line of duty in Kane County. He was an indispensable member of the Sheriff's Department and will be greatly missed by his brothers there.

There was also a fly-over:

...and a last call by dispatch. I'm sure there wasn't a dry eye in attendance when we heard them calling for Brian over the radio.

He loved his job and did it well. And even more than that, he loved his family.

I took a lot of pictures of the family, but didn't feel like I should include them here. They are so personal and I feel like they are for the family alone.

I stood there with his grieving family and felt my heart breaking for them. There is something, though, that makes this family more fortunate than most - they have each other. Brian's parents and 5 brothers and their wives all live right here. And as I watched his oldest brother holding Brian's youngest daughter on his lap and comforting her and whispering in her ear, I knew that though Kristina's lost her dad, she has 5 uncles who are never going to let her down.

What a privilege it was to be there. Our prayers will continue to be with Brian's family - we love them and hope to be of some help and support to them.

Brian, we'll sure miss you!


ME said...

awwww Ann! Now I am crying!!! The pictures are so beautiful and touching and they will treasure and cherish them forever. Hard to put this in words but you did it beautifully! Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

Brandy and Marv said...

Wow...and here come more doesnt seem to get any easier....Thank you Ann- That is an amazing are amazing!

dedesmith32 said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! I felt so bad that I wasn't able to come down for the funeral - we had a family vacation planned and we were in Eden Utah at the time - but I so appreciated seeing all the photos and of course my prayers were with and still are my beautiful hometown and the Harris'!

Jenna Marie said...

This was beautifully written, and even more beautifully captured. Thank you for posting these Ann... :)

Nettie said...

Beautiful. Tear jerking. Eternal. Thanks Ann. I love what you wrote about his girls, I was about their age when I lost my dad, and not only did my family step up, but the whole community. They are lucky to live where they do. Thanks again.

Tiffanie said...

Thanks Ann...that was beautiful...there are no have said it all...Thanks so much for sharing!!

Parelli Central said...

The pictures and your tribute are beautiful. Our thoughts are with Brian's family....

Petra Christensen
Parelli 2Star Junior Trainee Instructor
Parelli Central

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