MIAMI COUNTY — It was an evening of reflection and remembrance for those who lost loved ones during the annual Miami County Victim Witness Program’s Candlelight Service.
The annual ceremony was held Tuesday evening at the First Lutheran Church in Troy. Approximately 50 people attended, including family and friends who lost their loved ones.
A Christmas tree filled with white feathers and a memorial poem served as a visible reminder for those honoring their loved ones during the holiday season.
Miami County Victim Witness Director Carmen Barhorst said the Christmas season is often difficult for those who have lost a loved one and she hoped the ceremony would bring a sense of peace and comfort to help cope with their loss.
“All of us at Victim Witness, the prosecutor’s office, and law enforcement all throughout Miami County want to thank you for sharing this time with us and hope you find some peace and comfort after tonight,” Barhorst said. “Please take a feather with you tonight in honor of your loved one. Place it on your own tree at home, on your rear view mirror, next to your bed, wherever you find comfort and it could give you some sense of peace.”
“Feathers from an angel are ones we rarely see. But these are quite different and as special as can be. These feathers are a reminder of a special person’s love. Who is now your Guardian Angel, watching from above.”
Piqua Police Department’s Chief Bruce Jamison provided the evening’s opening prayer, and said, “In this past year, we’ve seen incredible acts of hatred, but we’ve also see acts of love all around us.”
Miami County Sheriff’s Office Chief Dave Duchak spoke at the ceremony on behalf of law enforcement and the efforts that are made to help victims cope with the loss from violent acts such as homicide.
“I”m so truly sorry for each one of your losses. Please know that you are never truly alone. We in law enforcement will always walk with you and be by your side,” Duchak said.
Duchak also thanked Miami County Victim Witness advocates for their time and dedication to help the victims of crime throughout the year.
“They are truly angels of the night who show up at all times and in all weather whenever we call them,” he said.
Miami County Prosecutor Tony Kendell said he hoped the ceremony would bring a sense of comfort and peace to those who had lost loved ones.
Kendell shared how he knew many of those in the audience personally through the criminal justice process.
“I know I speak for victim witness and law enforcement when we say we become very invested in you as we walk through the criminal justice system and take that journey together,” Kendell said. “I’ve worked with many of you. I’ve laughed with many of you. I’ve cried with you and I’ve prayed with you and for that I’m a much better person. I know that law enforcement and victim witness feel the same. For us, it’s not just a job, but it’s a calling. We’ve dedicated our professional lives to this and that’s the blessing we walk away with and having known you and being better for it.”
Parents of Murdered Children member Sherry Nolan offered guidance to help those cope with the sudden loss of their loved ones. Nolan’s 24-year-old daughter and unborn grandchild were murdered in a domestic violence incident on Sept. 7, 2001.
“Grief is a journey. We move from seeing the person by sight to seeing them in memories. At first they are too painful and every memory breaks our hearts,” she said. “Gradually they help us establish the significance of our loss. In time, they wrap themselves in our being and our loved ones are born inside our hearts. That is called the journey of grief.”
Del Braund performed “Amazing Grace”on the bag pipes and Pastor Rick Barnes closed the ceremony with a prayer of hope and peace.
Reach Melanie Yingst at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews