Friday, May 18, 2018 | 2 a.m.
Each holding a white rose, loved ones of fallen officers marched behind the multi-agency honor guard. Bagpipes and drums produced solemn notes, staccatos and thumps.
One by one Thursday evening at Police Memorial Park in the northwest valley, they made their way through the gravel trail bordered by stones engraved with the names of the honored officers.
And one by one, they placed their roses in a vase fronting a stage.
Three of them were gripped by Veronica Hartfield, her son, Ayzayah, and her daughter, Savannah. This year, during the Southern Nevada Law Enforcement Memorial, they were paying homage to the patriarch of their family, the Metro Police officer affectionately known as “Chucky,” who died a hero more than seven months ago.
Charleston Hartfield, who was off-duty, and Veronica Hatfield were enjoying country music at the Route 91 Harvest festival Oct. 1 when gunfire began to rain down. Both sprung into action, ushering the attendees to safety. Hartfield was one of 58 killed that Sunday night.
"To my dear Veronica, Ayzayah, Savannah, my heart reaches out to you every day," said Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, her voice breaking. "One day, again, we will all be together with those who we've lost and cherished over the years. Most especially, the most dedicated, the most selfless, the most caring, who every day of their lives had lived to protect others, our law enforcement."
"One life that is lost in this giving profession of selflessness and service to others is one life far too many," Goodman said.
Hartfield's stone was the 49th placed in the memorial. The other 48 represent the Southern Nevada officers who died in the line of duty before him (since 1866).
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said he wishes that no more names would have to be added, but he welcomes the ceremony, which he called "bittersweet."
"It's bitter in the fact that we're even here doing it in the first place," he said. "But it's sweet in that we remember. Quite often people go along with their lives and we tend to forget about tragic events. But I think it's important for us to bring it to the forefront annually so that the families understand we respect the sacrifice that was made."
In his speech, retired Metro captain and Las Vegas Councilman Stavros Anthony spoke about the "very small percentage" of men and women who decide to go into law enforcement."
They've decided that they're going to chase evil, they're going to protect the innocent, they're going to help people that they'll only meet once ... at the beginning of their shift, they know that they may have to make the ultimate sacrifice."
They may die doing it, Anthony said, "but they still do it."
The atmosphere Thursday was as somber as the night of Oct. 5, when droves showed up to honor Hartfield at the same park. This time, a group of middle schoolers comprised a choir and in their youthful voices sang a rendition of “America the Beautiful.”
Toward the end of the ceremony, the 49 names were read, including those of North Las Vegas Detective Chad Parque, who was killed in a crash last year, and Metro Officers Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck, who died in a 2014 ambush.
A simulated 21-gun salute reverberated through the breeze and three police helicopters made a flyby as the sun began to set.