Update for May 21, 2015
TDCJ units remember
By Diane Cosgrove
The Torres and Ney Units of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice held a moving outdoor memorial service May 7 in the yard between the two units. The purpose of the ceremony was to offer a time of reflection and to honor the memory of fallen correctional institution employees in Texas as well as the U.S., remembering their service in protecting society and maintaining the security of our prisons.
Especially significant for the local units was the loss of Ney Unit correctional officer Ken Beard, who passed away May 19, 2014, represented last Thursday by his son and daughter-in-law, Brett and Robbie Beard, and grandson, Josh Schueling.
Standing behind the huge Texas-shaped rock memorial, constructed in 2013 by Ney Unit inmates, Chaplain Fernando Charles opened the service playing the guitar and singing, “Amazing Grace, My Chains are Gone.” Warden Joseph Wilson issued the Call to Order and, following the TDCJ Honor Guard’s posting of the colors, welcomed the assembly which included local dignitaries, TDCJ employees and members of the community.
After Chaplain Cameron offered the invocation from a beautifully painted podium borrowed from the Torres Unit’s chapel, Officer Beverly McBride lit the memorial candle and Officer James Canning read “Lighting of Candle,” by Jacqueline Brown.
The Riderless Horse, led around the grassy area near the assembly by Officer Jill Heimen, serves as a stark and solemn reminder that the wearer of the hat which is situated on the saddle horn, and boots, inserted backwards into the stirrups, is no longer here to inhabit them.
Yvonne Flowers placed a memorial wreath at the base of the Texas “rock,” and Leticia Cardenas read a tribute entitled, “We Will Remember You.” Following the Bell Toll by Patricia Rivera, the Roll Call, offered by Officer Mark Ross, was accompanied by officers carrying red, white and blue balloons which they released with the playing of “Taps” by the TDCJ Honor Guard. As the balloons floated toward heaven, Chaplain Charles sang “I Will Rise.”
Assistant Warden Kimberly Woodall offered a benediction, then Christina Alvarez conducted a Missing Officer Table service, describing what each item symbolized, such as the sword (honor), lemon slice (bitter fate of those crippled or killed while protecting society), pinch of salt (tears shed by those mourning the loss), Bible (strength gained through faith) and others.
In closing, small beverage cups were distributed and as Major Ronnie Perez offered a toast for TDCJ staff who’ve passed on. All lifted their cups and drank the toast. The assembly then retired to the visitation room for refreshments.
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