Mayor Craig Treneff gave the following remarks at the opening ceremony of the 10th-annual Field of Heroes:
"Thank you and I extend a warm welcome to all assembled here this morning to honor those heroes who have sacrificed so that we can live in freedom today.
Memorial Day is a fundamentally solemn occasion, an annual reflection on what others have done for us. And it is fitting that one theme this year, in the tenth year of this important event, is honoring first responders, in contemplating what those heroes have done for us.
Everyone here is aware of what occurred in our city on February 10.
February 10 makes this Memorial Day, and this tenth anniversary Field of Heroes, all the more significant for Westerville.
The sacrifice by our two officers is symbolic of the sacrifices our men and women in blue make for us every day of the year, all across this nation.
My reflection today, therefore, is on the meaning and significance of February 10th to this Memorial Day. This is not to overlook the acts of the heroes who served and protected this nation in foreign wars. As a society, we owe all of those who fought to keep us free our ultimate gratitude and support. But, what happened on February 10th touched the residents of this city in a deeply personal way and reminded us of the heroes among us and of our connection to each other.
Westerville responded to the events with shock and grief, a grief that was personal even for those who did not have a prior connection with the officers. Our residents also responded with an outpouring of selfless caring for the officers and their families. I think our citizens saw the attack on our officers as an attack on our sense of community, our sense of the character of our City.
And here is a lesson from that terrible experience: people of different backgrounds and points of view saw again unity and purpose in the community. We recognized how our officers had put service to our community above themselves. And we returned to the ideal of belonging to a community. From blue lights everywhere to the thousands lining the streets to say goodbye to the officers, we put this community above ourselves as our officers had.
Officer Anthony Morelli. Officer Eric Joering.
They are our heroes. They are our heroes.
This field and this magnificent display of heroism and sacrifice is a demonstration of the community of caring that is Westerville. We only reminded ourselves of that in the days following February 10. It was there all along. It is here today.
I want to thank the Westerville Sunrise Rotary, and especially my friend Larry Jenkins, for 10 years of dedication to honoring all of those heroes to whom we owe so much. This event should remind us every Memorial Day weekend to step outside our polarized political views and acknowledge that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves—our Westerville community, our state, our great nation—and seek to make our communities work so that the sacrifices of our heroes, memorialized here today, will not have been in vain.