Fallen Macon officer's memorial 80 years in the making
MACON, Mo. —
As the nation salutes fallen officers on National Peace Officers' Memorial Day, one officer holds a unique place in the history of Macon, Missouri.
Claude Whyles is a name Macon residents haven't heard of in a long time.
He was killed in the line of duty some 80 years ago. His sacrifice once forgotten is now slated to be cemented in stone.
“Today is a day to remember our fallen officers and also remember the loved ones that they have left behind,” said Macon Police Department Chief Adam Dawdy.
"A citizen came into the police department and told us that, during coffee one morning, he had found out that we had a Macon police officer that had been killed in the line of duty in the '30s," said Modeste Ewing, Macon Police Department administrative assistant.
The small crowd that gathered honoring Whyles is a result of three years of research by the police department, historical society and community.
"Not one person can take all the credit for this," Ewing said.
Wyles' grandchildren stood in their deceased mother's place as the flag outside Macon City Hall flew at half-staff. The family declined to comment.
"I see on their faces how important it was to them, and that makes it all worthwhile," Ewing said.
"We are a family," Dawdy said. "We are a small department, and I think that small departments make that bond a lot tighter." "
And after those three years of gathering the necessary documents, their fallen brother, once forgotten, may have his name cast in stone.
"I have verbal conformation that next year officer Claude Whyles' name will be added to the [fallen officers’ memorial] wall in Jefferson City," Ewing said.
Though Whyles is the only City of Macon police officer to be killed in the line of duty, concern for officers' safety is always on the department's mind.
"When we sit behind that microphone and it's quite on the other side we're always nervous for our officer's safety," Ewing said.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, fatalities have risen four percent compared to this time last year.