Karen Parker was among family members of area law enforcement personnel killed in the line of duty who gathered downtown Thursday evening to remember their relatives.
"It's a way to honor the men and women who protect us on a daily basis," she said.
Parker said she and her family have been attending the ceremony — held at the Law Enforcement Memorial on Market Street — since it began to honor the memory of her great-great-uncle William Cate, who once served as sheriff of Hamilton County.
Cate was killed while transporting a prisoner by train from Chattanooga to Knoxville in 1882. He and his deputy, John Conway, were ambushed by the prisoner's family before they reached their destination.
The Chattanooga Police Department and Hamilton County Sheriff's Office hosted the 2017 ceremony.
James Bradford, director of public relations for the Bradley County Sheriff's Office, estimated about 200 people attended to honor the 59 law enforcement officers from Chattanooga and surrounding areas who had fallen in the line of duty, as well as their survivors.
Chattanooga Police Department Chief Fred Fletcher opened by thanking friends, family, police officers and elected officials for their support. He then introduced Bertha Lawrence of the Chattanooga Police Department, who sang the national anthem.
Sarah Rogers, a Chattanooga Police Department officer who joined the force in 2016 after she lost her husband, Officer Nathan Rogers, to cancer, was the keynote speaker.
"During the 12 months of his fight [against cancer], I felt the arms of this community wrap themselves around me," she said. "And I never felt that brotherhood and sisterhood stronger than the days that followed Nathan's death."
After her speech, current officers lined up to lay roses on the memorial in memory of the fallen. Some of the surviving family members accompanied the officers.
Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at 423-757-6327 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @hughesrosana.