VERMILION — Louise Palermo was 5 when her father, Deputy John Palermo, was shot and killed in the line of duty.
Palmero, now a parent herself, has carried the memory of that loss for a half a century.
On Thursday, she addressed a crowd of police officers and some of their family members for the annual Lorain County Police Officers Memorial Day.
Her loss provides a unique sense of empathy.
“No one but another family member can know the sacrifice of never knowing what the end of the day will bring,” she said, addressing the group against the bitter wind on the shore of the Vermilion River.
Though her words were met with silence, the sentiment stuck. It was reflected in the end of the ceremony that followed.
Name after name was read off from the past — the seventeen members of law enforcement in Lorain County killed over 100 years.
In 1923, Fred Webber was shot by a drunken gunman. In 1964, John Palermo was killed by a mental patient whom he was trying to calm down. In 2010, James Kerstetter was killed while responding to a neighborhood disturbance.
Seventeen names in total were read and with them, 17 roses were placed by officers around the county on a makeshift memorial site by the river.
It was a solemn ceremony but an important one, Vermilion Mayor Eileen Bulan said in a speech to the crowd Thursday.
“Sometimes you don’t receive enough thanks or enough support,” Bulan said.
Though Vermilion was chosen to host the ceremony this year, it’s an annual event held at a different city every year. It’s important, she said, “to honor law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
State Sen. Gayle Manning, D-North Ridgeville, echoed Bulan’s statement, calling police officers both, “voices for the voiceless,” and, “strength for the weak.”
She, like Louise Palermo, paid special attention to the family members — both the ones who attended the ceremony and the ones who didn’t — of police officers.
“I imagine pride wells up inside of you,” Manning said.