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Larson honored in Forsyth
Governor Sonny Perdue stands with Larson's children Megan and Shawn at the memorial wall in Forsyth. - photo by Luke Hearn

The mood was somber; the atmosphere solemn.

As a bell tolled for the five Georgia peace officers killed last year, fellow officers stood at attention and guests and family members of the fallen officers held hands and wiped away tears.

Lisa Larson, whose husband Michael was killed last December, fought tears behind her large sunglasses.

That was the overall feel for Wednesday’s Peace Officer Memorial Day ceremony held in Forsyth at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center.

Among the five officers honored was Sergeant Larson with the Bryan County Sheriff’s Department.

Larson had been with the department nearly eight years when he struck an abandoned car in the middle of the intersection of Hwys. 204 and 280.

He was pronounced dead shortly after midnight on Dec. 11.

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was the keynote speaker at the ceremony.

"We’re here to pay tribute," Perdue said to the crowd of nearly 400 that came to remember the fallen officers. "This is our way to say thank you and to memorialize those that gave the ultimate sacrifice."

Perdue said he looked forward to the day when memorializing recently killed officers wouldn’t be necessary but said those that were being remembered will never be forgotten.

"My goal is to have years where we don’t have to gather to remember the losses for that year," he said.

"Our peace officers are heroes and today we honor their memories as we always will."

After his speech, Perdue presented a proclamation and medal to the families of the fallen officers.

A bagpiper then led the families and guests to the outside memorial, where a bell was rung for each of the five officers and in the memory of all the other officers killed in earlier years.

The ceremony ended with an officer playing "Taps."

"I always do fine until they do the bag pipes and ‘Taps,’" said Larson’s widow Lisa. "Then it just hits me."

She said she thought the ceremony went well, and said her late husband would have thought the same.

"I think Michael would have been honored," she said. "It was very nice."

Bryan County Sheriff Clyde Smith said he thought the ceremony went well, and said he hopes not to have to attend another remembrance ceremony.

"I think it went real well and I was glad to see (Mike’s) close family was able to be here," Smith said. "(Mike) is the first one we could find a record of being killed in Bryan County. I really don’t care to have to do this again."

Larson has been remembered at various memorial ceremonies throughout the state and nation, including one in Atlanta and another in Washington, D.C, earlier this month.

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