The least we can do
His name is carved in stone.
His name is on the interstate.
His parents are fixtures on the community service and public events scene.
He is Deputy Roger Rice. He is a fallen officer.
Rice’s name is carved on the state’s fallen officers’ memorial just a stone’s throw from the Statehouse in Columbia. Rice’s name is on green and white signs that dedicate an interchange of I-26 near Clinton in his honor. His alleged killer has not yet been brought to justice.
His death responding to a Laurens County domestic violence situation in which a young woman died and her alleged killed lived is part of a shameful legacy. South Carolina leads the nation in the rate of murder, men killing women.
Roger Rice is not alone. He and his fellow fallen officers will be memorialized on Sunday.
The flags at all County buildings will fly at half-staff. That is by resolution of the Laurens County Council, adopted April 12.
It is Peace Officers’ Memorial Day, part of May 15-21, Peace Officers’ Memorial Week. All through the nation, people will remember fallen officers. Some will jeer that the police are “out of control.” Others will weep, others will just go about their Sunday.
Congress and the President have declared May 15 Peace Officers’ Memorial Day. Laurens County government has followed suit. It’s part of a resolution “declaring the month of May, 2016 as ‘Peace Officers’ Memorial Month,’” the county resolution says.
The words of the resolution can be read as softly as a prayer:
“Members of the law enforcement agencies of Laurens County play an essential role in safeguarding the rights and freedoms of the citizens of our community and unceasingly provide a vital public service; and
“It is important that all citizens know and understand the duties, responsibilities, hazards and sacrifices of their law enforcement officers, and that law enforcement officers recognize their duty to serve the people of the community, by protecting then against violence and disorder.
“(We honor) those law enforcement officers, who through theoir courageous deeds, have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their community or have become disabled in the performance of duty, as to honor those law enforcement officers presently serving the community.”
Roger Rice is not the only Laurens County peace officer to have died in the line of duty. You truly can add first responders of all kinds to that heroes’ list. Still, Rice’s death deeply, deeply touched those who knew him. Council member Dr. David Pitts suggested at the April meeting when this resolution was adopted that the Rice family be acknowledged. Council Vice-chairman Keith Tollison thanked Pitts for his suggestion.
Not remembered is forgotten, and our heroes deserve so much more from us - the living.
(Vic MacDonald is Editor of The Clinton Chronicle. Reach him at 833-1900 or firstname.lastname@example.org. His columns appear in the blogs section of MyClintonNews.com.)