JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – They suffered tragedy when their loved ones paid the ultimate price but Friday night, the families of the two fallen NYPD officers, slain in an ambush, are guests of honor in Jacksonville.
Officer Rafael Ramos and his partner Officer Wenjian Liu, were killed as they sat in their patrol car last October.
In just 24 hours, their families will join thousands at the downtown arena for the annual Guns and Hoses event.
It was an emotional experience for the families, and also for the many firefighters, police officers and onlookers. So many people excited for the Guns and Hoses event Saturday and on top of doing good for the community, those participating tomorrow are also paying tribute to these two fallen heroes.
As they arrived travelers were met with the sound of bagpipes. Music to symbolize the arrival and honor of two families who paid the ultimate sacrifice last December.
"They were murdered for the simple fact that they were police officers. For the uniform they wore and for the responsibility they embrace. They represent every man and woman in this room and across the country," David Stevens, the event organizer, said.
The Liu and Ramos families were led away in style and once they reached the crowd, they were met largely with silence, but the support was there.
For John Wells, his way of showing support was arranging for dozens of classic cars to line the street as the families drove by. He also hopes to bring awareness.
"I guess it's kind of a situation where we feel like, 'don't judge until you've had to walk a mile in their shoes.' We want to show our support for law enforcement because, let's face it, where would we be without them?" supporter John Wells said.
Many of the people welcoming these families will join them Saturday night for the Guns and Hoses event. For some, this event isn't just about charity, it's also about sending a comforting message.
"These officers, these firefighters, these police officers, these corrections officers, these officers will see that they won't be forgotten. If unfortunately, something were to happen to them," Stevens said.
The bell for the Guns and Hoses is at 6:30 p.m. and tickets start at $12 go up to $40. The event is open to the public.