Trumpeter honors fallen peace officers through taps
May 15, 2012 at 12:15 a.m.
Updated May 17, 2012 at 12:17 a.m.
As the mist began to fall on the officers standing proudly at attention outside the Victoria County Sheriff's Office for Tuesday's peace officer's memorial, the powerful sound of Charles Hauboldt III's trumpet cut through the silence.
Standing on a grassy incline behind the crowd of onlookers, Hauboldt performed a flawless rendition of taps, with the last notes of vibrato resonating in the ears of all within earshot.
For the past 15 years, Hauboldt, who owns Grace Funeral Home, has volunteered his services and his silver Bach-Stradivarius trumpet, to honor the men and women who put their lives on the line every day for him and others.
"It's a very personal and emotional time for people," said Hauboldt, whose father was a firefighter and paramedic. "Even though I've played it several hundred times, each time, I'm probably as nervous as the first time I played it."
"You want it to be as perfect as you can each time."
The late President John F. Kennedy designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day, however, law enforcement agencies nationwide celebrate National Peace Officers Week from May 8 to 14, paying tribute to officers serving their communities and remembering those who have died in the line of duty.
In 2011, 166 law enforcement officers were killed nationwide, 13 of whom were from Texas.
So far in 2012, two Texas officers have been killed in the line of duty.
"It's a reflection of the life in which we lead, as well as the loss of the men and women dedicated to law enforcement throughout the U.S. and throughout the world," Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor said during his speech. "Once a year, we have this ability to reflect on what public service is all about. I think it's really important because as time goes by, most of us who have been in law enforcement for a lengthy period of time have had something happen to them, friends, associates."
Other speakers at the Victoria memorial included County Judge Don Pozzi, Victoria Police Chief JJ Craig, Victoria City Councilman Paul Polasek and Victoria Mayor Will Armstrong.
"We have the utmost faith in your ability to do your job," Armstrong told memorial attendees. "Take the opportunity to thank them for what they do."
Faith Family Church Pastor Jim Graff gave a personal account of his experience on a ride-along with a police officer who is also a member of his church.
That night, Graff said, the two men went out on a call to solve a dispute, as well as to a business that had possibly been burglarized.
"He doesn't know if this person is armed or unarmed, intoxicated or sober or anything about their mental state," said Graff as he recalled his thoughts that night. "This isn't like 'CSI' or 'Miami Vice' or 'Hawaii 5-0.' This is a real person in real danger."
Other highlights of the ceremony included the raising of the Texas and U.S. flags while the St. Joseph High School Choir sang "The Star-Spangled Banner." Hauboldt was presented with a plaque for his years of playing taps at the annual memorial.
A first-timer to the ceremony, Lesley Sciba, 55, shared her thoughts on the memorial.
"It was very emotional. I felt very honored to be here among everyone to celebrate. It made me realize how these men and women go out everyday and risk their lives," said Sciba, a 911 program administrator at the Golden Crescent Regional Planning Commission. "It brought it home."
Meanwhile, the ceremony brought tears to Melody Lytle's eyes.
"Every year, it's a little bit more personal. Things have happened to my husband in the line of duty," said Lytle, who has attended the ceremony for the past 18 years and whose husband is a lieutenant with the Victoria County Sheriff's Office. "It gives me a chance to remember and think of them."