First Posted: 5/6/2009
An annual service Saturday afternoon to honor fallen law enforcement officers in the area will be conducted near the site where a Mount Airy policeman was gunned down in 1971.
A special part of the Surry-Yadkin County Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service will be devoted to the dedication of two bridges on U.S. 52, which cross West Pine Street, in honor of city police Detective Clinton Monroe Boggs. He is one of eight officers from the two counties who have died in the line of duty through the years.
Saturdays event hosted by the city of Mount Airy, to begin at 3 p.m., will be held in the parking lot of the Bright Leaf Drive-In Theater at 150 N. Andy Griffith Parkway, which is near the two bridges. It is open to the public, with those attending asked to bring their own seating for the outdoor service.
Boggs, 38, was fatally shot on Feb. 25, 1971, after he had stopped a stolen northbound car along US. 52 Bypass. The murder occurred near the exit ramp leading to the intersection of N.C. 89, just south of both the drive-in and the twin bridges to be named for the slain officer.
I know his daughter and son will both be here and therell be other family members, Chet Jessup, a Pilot Mountain resident and state Alcohol Law Enforcement agent, said of those expected to attend on Boggs behalf.
Jessup, who has spearheaded several similar observances to memorialize local law enforcement personnel in recent years, said some retired Mount Airy Police Department members who worked with Boggs are to be at the service as well.
The special speaker for the occasion will be David Beal, whose remarks will bring a unique perspective to the circumstances behind Boggs murder from the standpoint of someone who was there, according to Jessup.
He has a direct connection, the organizer said. He has firsthand knowledge of this event.
Beal, now a member of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners, is a fixture of the local law enforcement community. He was an agent with the State Bureau of Investigation at the time of Boggs death in 1971 and helped track down the detectives killer in Carroll County, Va. Beal is also a former city police chief.
A Lasting Tribute
Jessup has said that one of his goals in honoring officers whove died in the line of duty is making sure todays generation and those to come remember law enforcement sacrifices of the past. He said the naming of the two bridges on U.S. 52 in Boggs memory will accomplish that objective.
Those bridges are in close proximity of where he was killed, and also being on a main thoroughfare in Surry County (is significant), Jessup said. The sheer presence of the signs will be both a reminder to those who are aware of Boggs sacrifice and a motivator for others to learn about it, he said.
Anybody that doesnt know the story, anytime they cross those bridges they are going to see one of those signs, Jessup said. Those unfamiliar with Boggs will think, He must have been someone special, the organizer added.
All the young people, the children in school, Im sure theyll learn the story. And the people that didnt know him will always remember he was killed right there at those bridges.
Jessup believes the presence of the Detective Clinton Monroe Boggs Bridges will be a fitting and lasting honor for a man who gave his life to protect others. What better tribute can there be, he said, than providing something thats visible for everybody to see throughout eternity?
Arnold Lakey of North Wilkesboro, the District 11 member on the N.C. Board of Transportation who represents Surry County is scheduled to attend Saturdays dedication ceremony.
Lakey is expected to read an official resolution adopted by the transportation board in February when it approved the bridge naming, which also was endorsed by the Mount Airy and Surry County boards of commissioners.
A replica of one of the bridge signs has been prepared for the ceremony. The actual ones will be erected ahead of time and kept covered until after the dedication, said Jessup, who believes their unveiling will occur by Saturday evening.
Mayor Jack Loftis will offer welcoming remarks for the memorial service.
A solemn part of the occasion will be a roll call in which the names of all the fallen in the two-county area are read aloud and accounts given of how their lives ended while in the service of citizens. In addition to the sheriffs offices of Surry and Yadkin, police departments in Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain and Jonesville are included.
Saturdays annual memorial service will kick off the 2009 observance of National Police Week in Surry and Yadkin counties. The nationwide commemoration was established by Congress in 1962.
The memorial service and bridge dedication will be conducted regardless of the weather. In the event of rain, it will take place in the sanctuary of Mount Airys First Baptist Church at 714 N. Main St.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.