Three former pillars of the legal and law-enforcement systems were remembered and honored Thursday at the 24th annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Cookout in Tattnall County.
Officers from across South Georgia attended the event, which coordinators said was a way to thank the men and women who keep their communities safe. Liberty County Sheriff Don Martin, Long County State Court Judge Richard Phillips and U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Alaimo, all of whom died in 2010, were remembered with a resolution to honor their service to the area.Long County Sheriff Cecil Nobles, who supported and helped to establish the resolution, talked about the three men and his relationship with each of them.
"All three of these men were personal friends of mine, and they all worked very hard in law enforcement. We lost three good men when we lost each of them, and I know they all would really appreciate this resolution honoring them," Nobles said.
WTOC news anchor Sonny Dixon, who emceed the cookout, read the resolution aloud, highlighting each honoree’s life and service.
"Georgia law enforcement hereby recognizes and honors the hard work, sacrifice and dedication of Judge Alaimo, Judge Phillips and Sheriff Martin in furthering the interest of the law-enforcement community. Georgia law enforcement will always look to the legacy and leadership of Judge Alaimo, Judge Phillips and Sheriff Martin as an inspiration and model for their future law enforcement work," Dixon read.
Martin’s widow, Polly Martin, attended the cookout and was moved by the gesture.
"My heart is touched by how he is remembered by so many people, but I know that he will continue to be remembered for a long time because he did touch so many," Martin said of her late husband.
She also said Sheriff Martin always looked forward to the annual law enforcement cookout and thoroughly enjoyed it.
"One of his passions was this cookout and working with all of the other sheriffs. He loved to help get the food and everything in place," she said. "As I look out and see everyone and the good time that they are having, I know that he is here tonight."
Organizer and host Wayne Dasher said the event has grown tremendously in size and popularity during the past 24 years. He estimated 1,500 people attended this year.
Although the cookout originally was just for law-enforcement officers, it has evolved into a celebration of all first responders, correctional officers, military members and others who work in public-safety fields.
Dasher also was recognized Thursday for his planning efforts and support with a certificate of appreciation from the Savannah chapter of the American Red Cross.
The keynote speaker at this year’s cookout was Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who talked about Georgia’s economic struggles, but praised the state leaders for their fiscally responsible actions. Kemp said that although things are tough in the Peach State, many others are worse off.
The secretary of state also praised the cookout attendees for their hard work and dedication.
"Oftentimes, what you do is taken for granted, but we appreciate you and all of your staffs for what you do," Kemp said.