The silence in Rogers Arena in Edmonton on Tuesday during the Regimental Funeral for two slain Edmonton police officers was deafening. It was, in fact, perhaps the most sombre and visceral image of a unified display of the public's grief, reverence, and support for the families of Cst. Brett Ryan and Cst. Jordan Travis.
Dignitaries, police from other jurisdictions and other first response branches from across the province had all travelled to Edmonton to participate in the funeral. Airdrie's Mayor Peter Brown who was present at the funeral, reflected on it, saying that words don't do the solemn occasion justice.
"It's just incredible to see the support shown, in particular for the [Travis] and Ryan family from everyone in attendance. With close to 5,000 people; you could hear a pin drop," Mayor Brown said. "And the tributes by [Cst. Travis's] and [Cst.] Brett's wife were quite extraordinary; just hearing more about who they were as people and their focus on keeping communities safe and putting themselves on the line... It was very emotional. I don't think there any right words for it."
Other representatives from Airdrie included 13 Airdrie RCMP officers, members of the city's Municipal Enforcement, as well as members of the Airdrie Fire Department.
Mayor Brown also underlined that it is important, not just in the coming days, but to always be mindful of the sacrifice all first responders make when serving their communities.
"We don't always pay them respect, but believe me when you're willing to give your life for the community, that's a special thing. I was honoured and humbled to be [at the funeral]."
Prior to the funeral, the public was invited to pay their respects during a procession in honour of the police officers. Edmonton streets which are usually humming with the sound of daily life were cordoned off and eerily quiet as onlookers observed throngs of thousands of uniformed police officers marching in silence, only the sound of boots hitting the ground. The hearses of Cst. Jordan and Cst. Ryan was accompanied by fellow police officers, as they made their way to Rogers Place.
But once inside Rogers Place, in the darkened arena, there was a still sea of thousands of uniforms and bowed heads as the two caskets, draped with Canadian flags, were carried by eight pallbearers who made their way to the front. Both Cst. Travis and Ryan were posthumously awarded the Police Exemplary Service Medal, the Queen's Platinum Jubilee Medal, the Alberta Police Long Service Medal, the Alberta Emergency Services Medal and the Edmonton Police Service Medal of Honor.
John Dowds, the Lead Chaplain for the City of Edmonton who opened the service with a prayer, spoke of the fact that words at a time such as this are simply not adequate.
"But words are what we have and gestures of love are what we have; and in the midst of this unpredictable journey of grief, sometimes the words that you've heard or may hear can be rocks on which you stand or railings that you can hold on to when grief comes rushing over and overwhelms every piece of your being."
While many in the crowd wore stoic expressions throughout the ceremony, Edmonton Police Association President Curtis Hoople became emotional during his speech.
"To the Jordan and Ryan families, this police family is here for you and is committed to never forgetting... To Travis and Ryan.. you'll be dearly missed. Rest easy brothers, and let your police colleagues take it from here."
However, it was the words of the spouses of the late police officers that brought very raw emotions to the forefront. Edmonton Police Service Chaplain Roy Langer accompanied Cst. Travis's widow, Annie, to the podium and spoke on her behalf.
"Travis, my police officer, my best friend, my husband, my whole world. Have I told you how much I love you lately? Or how much I appreciate everything you do for me and our sweet little boys, Teddy and B.J.," Chaplain Langer read. "On our wedding day, I vowed to stand beside you when you honour the fallen and be understanding when duty comes to call me. So, today I am honouring you as I did that day and will continue as long as I live until we are together again."
Cst. Ryan's wife, Ashley delivered her own husband's eulogy, saying that he wouldn't have wanted his eulogy to evoke sadness.
"He [would have] wanted it to be full of laughable memories and only wanted one tear shed. Although that one-tear rule will be undoubtedly broken. My sweet husband, we thought we had eternity ahead of us. The 10 years we had together will have to suffice, but the everlasting love I have for you and for us is evermore. I love you forever. I miss you always and I love you more until we meet again."
Near the end of the service, the final 'book-off' for Cst. Ryan and Cst. Jordan was broadcast.
"Cst. Travis Jordan, Reg. number 3703 and Cst. Brett Ryan, Reg. number 4055, are booked out of service for the final time. May they rest in peace. We will remember them."
On March 28, one day after the Edmonton police officers' funeral, A Sûreté du Québec police officer was killed in the line of duty. Sgt. Maureen Breau was stabbed when she was attempting to arrest a suspect wanted on a warrant.
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