MIAMI COUNTY — It was an evening of reflection and remembrance for those who lost loved ones during the annual Miami County Victim Witness Program’s Candlelight Service.
The annual ceremony was held Thursday evening at the First Lutheran Church in Troy. Approximately 50 people attended, including family and friends who lost their loved ones.
Miami County Victim Witness Director Carmen Barhorst opened the ceremony with greetings before local law enforcement led the program.
Piqua Police Department’s Chief Bruce Jamison provided the evening’s opening prayer. Chief Jamison said he hoped the candlelight ceremony would “fill those with hope.”
“We about to enter a season of celebration, joy and gladness. We want to join our friends and neighbors in singing carols and praises to you, yet dear God, we can’t help but remember the pain surrounding those we have loved and lost.”
Miami County Sheriff’s Office Acting Sheriff Dave Duchak spoke at the ceremony on behalf of law enforcement and the efforts that are made to help victims cope with the loss from violent acts such as homicide.
“There are no words, I or anyone else, can say that would give you peace in your time of loss — not to mention this time of year when that loss is so much harder to bare,” Duchak said.
Duchak said it is the families of victims who give law enforcement the strength and renewed dedication to their careers each day.
“What we all need to focus on instead is all of the helpers who come to the aid to those in need,” Duchak said. “When something bad happens, look at all the good people who step forward to help their fellow man.”
Duchak said it is the families and friends of victims who provide the drive to bring to justice those who have harmed their loved ones.
“It is each of you and your strengths who give all of us in the law enforcement community the ability to keep doing what we do,” Duchak said. “I am truly sorry for each of your losses, please know that you are truly never alone. Your extended family in law enforcement are always standing by you.”
Duchak also thanked Miami County Victim Witness advocates for their time and dedication to help the victims of crime throughout the year.
“They are truly angels of the night who show up at all times and in all weather whenever we call them,” he said. “For all those times when we in law enforcement who forgot to say thank you, I’m saying thank you now.”
Miami County Prosecutor Tony Kendell said he hoped the ceremony would bring a sense of comfort and peace to those who had lost loved ones.
Kendell shared how he knew many of those in the audience personally through the criminal justice process.
“This time of year is not as it once was for you and that is because of someone you loved dearly has been taken from you. That is why we gather here to recognize and honor them and to honor you as well,” Kendell said.
Kendell shared how he and his staff get to know the families of victims through the trying times of prosecuting cases.
“We will continue to gather to remember those who have been taken from us and continue to pursue the guilty,” Kendell said. “It is my hope and prayer that it helps bring peace and comfort to your hearts at this time of year and beyond.”
West Milton Chief Harry Busse shared how he hoped the evening’s gathering helped heal those remembering loved ones and connect those who have lost love ones through their common bond of loss.
“Losing a loved one is always hard, yet during the holidays it is even more difficult,” Busse said. “I’ve never met anyone who chooses to be a victim of a crime. They are not just a number on a piece of paper though. You see statistics in the news every day trying to analyze what happens and why it happens, but in the end, it’s a personal thing through the family and friends affected by this. It doesn’t matter what the statistics are, it’s still a loss that you and your families have.”
Busse shared how the little reminders will continue to trigger memories and said he hoped families and friends could focus on the happy moments and the little mementos left behind by their loved ones.
The ceremony closed with families lighting a candle in their loved ones’ memory.
Follow Melanie Yingst on Twitter @Troydailynews