As Macon-Bibb County Fire Chief Marvin Riggins read the name of the last public servant killed in the line of duty, the courthouse bell tolled as if on cue.
The poignancy of the moment was not lost on the dozens of people gathered Friday morning at Public Safety Memorial Park in downtown to honor the community’s fallen firefighters, police officers and sheriff’s deputies.
The name of Lt. Randall E. Parker Jr., who died three months ago battling a house fire, was unveiled on the center of three black granite markers.
Sheriff David Davis began the observance with a moment of silence for former Sheriff Jerry Modena, who died Wednesday night.
“With honor they served, and with reverence we remember,” Davis said.
Julia Harden attended to remember her father, late Macon police officer Walter Harden Sr., who died in an accident in 1987.
“He was my hero,” said Harden, who was a young mother in her 20s when her father died. “It’s just a void in my life right now, but I know God is watching out, and he has an angel because he was an angel in our family. He helped a lot of people, and he was a blessing to others, as well as me.”
The names of 29 men were read from the sheriff’s office, fire department and former Macon Police Department.
A fire bell chimed after each recitation as deputies and firefighters laid flowers and slowly saluted.
Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert was fighting back tears as Parker’s widow, Sandie, laid a white rose at the foot of the monument, kissed her fingers and touched her husband’s name.
“It helps being surrounded by all the love and support from the community and just friends and family,” Parker said. “It helps us to know we’re not alone, that Randy is not forgotten.”
As the service drew to a close, Reichert added a simple “thank you” to those who have served and others who continue to put their lives at risk for others.
“It seems so insignificant, but I don’t know what else I can say,” Reichert said.
As the Georgia State Patrol’s Dan Bray played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes, a GSP helicopter flew over the arch of the fire department’s aerial ladders.
As Riggins said goodbye to Sandie Parker, they both remarked on the ringing of the bells.
“It was divine,” he said.
“God showed up again,” she said.
To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.