Ceremony honors fallen law enforcement officers in Dade City

Posted at 5:56 PM, May 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-05 17:56:43-04

Andrew was 4, Jessica just a year old when their dad, Hernando County deputy John Mecklenburg died in the line of duty.

“I don’t remember too much, but I like that he was funny and a lot like me. Very smart. Liked engineering like I do,” said Andrew.

Penny Mecklenburg makes sure her kids know all about their dad.

That’s why she brought them to Friday’s law enforcement memorial ceremony in Dade City.

“I like it. Every year we go to it,” said Andrew.

“We remember him every day. For us it’s an honor that other people choose to remember,” said Penny Mecklenburg.

In 2011, Mecklenburg was chasing a felon who had been driving the wrong way.

The chase went from Hernando County into Pasco, when the 35-year-old Army vet lost control and crashed into a tree.

“His badge may have said Hernando County. But he would have protected anybody,” said Penny Mecklenburg.

For the last 5 years, Penny’s raised their kids alone.

But it’s at this event, where they can all feel close to him again.

“I like when I go up to light the candle,” said Andrew.

After the ceremony, Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco gave the kids the stars off his uniform.

And then took Andrew to look for shells from the rifle salute.

“We want to spend some extra time and let them really understand that their dad’s a hero,” said Sheriff Nocco.

“We choose to laugh when it’s time to laugh. And be sad when it’s time to be sad. But they are very much like him these days in a lot of ways. That makes things a lot of fun,” said Penny.

Mecklenburg is one of many who died in the line of duty.

At this event, they are all honored.

By those that served with them.

And others who were waiting for them to come home.