San Diego - National Correctional Officers Week commenced with a cannon shot and 21-gun salute as officers from Glossbrenner Unit held a memorial service on Friday.
“The memorial is important because our people are important,” said Philip Rodriguez, warden of the prison facility. “It's to pay tribute for the sacrifices that they made.”
The week is set aside to acknowledge the work done by all the men and women serving in the field of corrections and to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
Those honored at the Glossbrenner unit included Michael A. Jensen with the Wynne Unit, Craig A. Orrell with Connally Unit, John T. Willhite, a safety officer in Region V director's office, among others from out-of-state.
The “Missing Officer” table was set up with a white tablecloth, a sword to symbolize honor, single red rose to remind of the missing loved ones, a yellow ribbon to show the continued determination to remember, a slice of lemon that reminds everyone about the bitter fate of those killed or crippled while protecting society, a pinch of salt to show the tears endured, a Bible to represent the strength gained through faith, an inverted glass for the inability to share the day's toast and an empty chair for their absence.
The ceremony also recognizes and applauds the efforts of all correctional officers.
The officers were treated to a luncheon throughout the week.
In Jim Wells County, the correctional officers were also treated to a lunch. Vicky Garza, transport officer, was selected as the first “correctional officer of the year.”
Lt. Barbara Garcia with the Jim Wells County Sheriff's Department said Garza goes beyond her job.
“The biggest thing for me is the things they have to give up – holidays, birthdays,” she said.
Garcia said it was a hard decision because all of her correctional officers at the Jim Wells County jail work hard.
Capt. Thomas Torres said Garza is very dependable.
“She comes to work everyday with a smile on her face,” he said. “She has a cheerful attitude. She just an all-around great officer.”
Torres said they hope to continue the award recognition each year.