NEW ORLEANS — When a trailer covered in pictures pulled up next to the New Orleans Police Department Tuesday, one picture stood out for Jacquelyn McGee.
“That was my heart. That was my baby,” said McGee as she looked up at a picture of her daughter.
Her daughter, Sharon Williams, a 30-year NOPD veteran, died last July because of complications from COVID-19, which she contracted while on the job. McGee started praying when she found out.
“I pleaded with Jesus, I begged him. I begged him to have mercy. I never thought I would be burying one of my children," she said.
Williams' picture is now one of 339 on the trailer, all officers who lost their lives last year in service to their communities, 240 of them because of COVID-19. Their pictures are on a more than 22,000-mile journey across the country, to remember and honor each one of them.
“It’s very humbling,” said Jagrut Shah, founder of Beyond the Call of Duty, Ride to Remember.
Shah says with each stop, a reminder of the sacrifices that come with the badge and a pledge to never forget the people who wore them.
“We wanted to make sure that the family, the survivors were able to find some sort of peace,” Shah said.
Two other pictures are also familiar to NOPD. Officers Mark Hall and Raymond Boseman, both with 35 years on the force, died after contracting COVID-19 while on the job. For Boseman, it was shortly after working Mardi Gras.
“He pushed himself so hard to work with Mardi Gras and he was never late, and he enjoyed it,” Boseman’s wife, Sybil Boseman, said.
Sybil Boseman says her husband was dedicated and determined to protect the city he loved.
“He was passionate about everything he did and said when he chose the police force, he was going to give it all and he did that,” she said.
Giving it all and now being remembered for all it.
“We are going to continue remembering them. We’re going to continue honoring them,” Shah said.
Other Louisiana officers are also part of that memorial, including Levi Arnold with the New Orleans Constable’s Office and Kietrell Pitts with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office. Both also died because of COVID-19.