By RICK HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON — In honor of his 20 years of service as Jefferson County FOP chaplain, Mt. Vernon’s Dan Lovin has been chosen as one of the state representatives to attend the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service in the nation’s Capitol.
“Since I’ve been the state FOP chaplain, I’ve been able to participate in the memorial services in Springfield. That’s an honor to get to read scripture, pray, or whatever they ask me to do,” Lovin said.
Just shy of two weeks ago, Lovin was invited by the state FOP president, Ted Street, to go to the national memorial, all expenses paid.
“He said you’ve served in law enforcement, this being your 20th year, and we feel like it’s a way to honor you. The emotions that went through me — excited, humbled. I’m not sure what word to use there, but a couple of days later they told me I would have VIP seating at the Capitol,” Lovin said.
Lovin has been the Jefferson County chaplain since 1994 and was named the Mt. Vernon Police Department’s chaplain in 1998.
“I’m very honored to not only represent Illinois, but to represent our city,” Lovin said.
Lovin will be joined by two other delegates from the state — a Chicago police officer and the lobbyist/attorney for the FOP.
The memorial service began in 1982 as a gathering in Senate Park of approximately 120 survivors and supporters of law enforcement. Decades later the event has grown to a series of events which attracts thousands of survivors and law enforcement officers. This year’s service will be held on the west front of the U.S. Capitol.
Lovin will leave on May 13 and participate in a candlelight vigil that evening. He will return to Mt. Vernon on May 16, one day following the Peace Officers’ Memorial Service. It will begin at 11 a.m., local time. Lovin said the speaker has not been announced.
Having served in New York shortly after the 9/11 disaster, Lovin knows firsthand of the ordeals of law enforcement families.
“When I served, I saw New York at its finest and its worst. I served with a lot of fine officers from the 20th and 6th precincts. Then I went back in December and we took memorial statutes for those killed in the line of duty. It really meant a lot to those families and to those officers,” Lovin said, noting he will wear a black patch on a badge at the national ceremony in honor of fallen law and fire personnel.
“New York was life-changing for everyone who served there, that’s for sure,” Lovin said. “I have made five trips total. I did the memorial service there in 2002 at the 20th precinct, and I was there in 2003 and 2004 for the anniversary dates. How will this trip stack up to those? I don’t think I can answer that until I get back. I know this: Anybody who has ever been there, whether in uniform or not, if they’re not crying, something is wrong.”