HAZLETON — A special ceremony was held in Luzerne County Wednesday for an officer who died in the line of duty 75 years ago.
There was a 21-gun salute, a patriotic song, a prayer, the lighting of a candle, and the unveiling of a plaque to honor Officer Ernesto Valente.
Valente died 75 years ago when he was hit by a car as he was rushing an injured child to a hospital. He is also the only officer to be killed in the line of duty in Hazleton. He would be just a line in a history book if not for Hazleton Police Chief Frank DeAndrea who organized the tribute.
“Thank you very much, especially those men and woman who have given their lives rather than swerve from the path of duty.”
Members of the fallen officer’s family were at the ceremony.
“I think it’s wonderful. It’s a little late but I’m glad they’re doing it for him,” said cousin Theresa Valente
Police officers know they all put their lives on the line daily.
“You think about that all the time. I have a family, I have children, yes we think about that. I think about that for my officers,” said Chief Brian Buglio, West Hazleton Police Department.
“There is a lot more crime, there is a lot more drugs, there is a lot more violence out there,” said Mike Morresi, Freeland Police.
Statistics show that more than 20,000 police officers in the United States, and that includes nearly 800 in Pennsylvania, have given their lives in the line of duty.