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Officer William Graves Memorial Service
Forty years ago, today, Auxiliary Policeman William Graves lost his life in Percy IL, helping those he cared for. Officer Graves did not have to be there that day, he was not on duty, he was not called to the scene, but was in the area working as a radio repairman and heard about the dangerous situation that was taking place. He arrived to a scene that was quickly deteriorating and the danger was mounting. Officer Graves did not retreat, even though two other Officers had been wounded by gunfire. He stayed hoping to assist in the conclusion of the situation. Officer Graves was hit by a bullet that passed through the arm of Steeleville Officer Claude Deckard. Officer Graves has been described to me as a man that was always looking out for others. He believed in helping others and that Officers should always back each other up. He was also well known to be a good friend to many, and someone you could count on anytime you needed help. It was this character that lead Officer Graves to Percy that day. He heard the call go out for help and like always responded to the call.
As we reflect back today on the events of that day long ago, we can’t help but think about Officer Graves losing his life and the pain that his friends and family have gone though over the years. However, I urge us to remember that his sacrifice that day was not in vain. Officer Graves and the other Officers that day stood in the path of a violent man intent on hurting others. Their actions stopped this man from hurting the public, the ones they had sworn to protect. They stood in the face of evil and did their duty that day with bravery and courage. For it has been said, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. For that is just what Officer Graves did that very day.
Even though so much time has passed since that fateful day, we must understand that Officer Graves dedication, love, and determination lives on today in the Officers that continue to put their lives on the line to protect the public. His memorial stands here today as a testament of his life and bravery, encouraging others to stand up against those that would cause harm, and to keep our communities safe. Thank you, Officer Graves, for standing up for not just Sparta but for all of Randolph County.
Today all these years later we must remember the sacrifice Officer Graves made that day. We must remember his dedication to protecting others, and his dedication to his fellow Officers. We must remember those that loved him and the pain that they have endured as a result of this event. We gather here today to let you know that we remember, and that your memory is more than the monument here today, but one that will be carried on, in each Officer in Randolph County. Thank you, Officer Graves for standing up and facing the challenge and most of all for being willing to give all, that we may live safe and secure.
Asst. Chief of Police Jeremy Kempfer
Sparta Police Department
December 9, 2016