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A small crowd gathered around the flagpole in front of the police department in Bremen Saturday morning. They anxiously awaited the unveiling of a rock commemorating the service of Bremen police officers Tony Swartzlander and Chad Beeson. Both officers were killed â€”Swartzlander in the line of duty, in 1981 and Beeson while on active duty in 2003 in a car accident.
â€śThis has been a long time coming,â€ť said Sergeant Steve Pittman. â€śWe wanted to do this years ago.â€ť
The police department began fundraising for the stone soon after Beesonâ€™s death in October 2003, but had trouble raising the complete amount needed for the engraved memorial. Eight years later, the police departmentâ€™s dream of creating a tribute to the two officers has been realized. The inscription on the stone, carved by Rich Yoder, reads:
â€śHonoring those who currently serve us, remembering those who have gone before us.â€ť
Underneath the quote are Swartzlander and Beesonâ€™s names and the dates of their birth and death.
Bremen Police Chief Matthew Hassel spoke briefly on the significance of the day. May 15 is national Peace Officersâ€™ Memorial Day, and also the beginning of Police Week. Sarah Talley, a Bremen High School student, sang the national anthem. Retired police chief Jim Brown, who was chief when Swartzlander was killed, shared his memories of Swartzlander.
â€śWe lost one of our finest, and a man who was my great friend,â€ť said Brown of Swartzlander.
Barry Beeson, father of Chad Beeson, also spoke about his son. Pittman closed the ceremony with words of encouragement for those present.
â€śThis is your rock â€” not mine, not the police departmentâ€™s â€” it is for the community,â€ť said Pittman. â€śIt you are walking by and want to pull up a few weeds, go ahead.â€ť
The crowd laughed appreciatively, lightening the mood. The memorial stone was uncovered and a moment of silence shared by all as they observed the tribute to the police officerâ€™s service.