Lakeland Police Officer Arnulfo Crispin
LAKELAND, Fla. -- "How I miss your jokes, your voice, your laughter."
That's part of a letter written by the sister of Officer Arnulfo Crispin, the Lakeland police officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty last December.
"You were brave, determined, and happy to put on that uniform and walk through those doors to protect us," the letter read.
Crispin's police badge rests beside his soccer trophies as his memory was honored during Memorial Day weekend, along with fallen soldiers. The ceremony is held each year at Calvary Baptist Church in Lakeland, inspired by Ron Payne, a former member of the congregation. Marine Cpl. Payne was the first Marine killed in combat while serving in Afghanistan.
"You protect our borders, you protect us from foreign aggression, but it is our responsibility to be your backup here on the homefront," Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack said during the service while talking about Crispin.
Sunday's ceremony also honored Army Specialist Ryan Lumley. It was only last December that the 21-year-old from Lakeland was killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb.
"He's always really protective over all of us," said his sister, Camryn.
After his death, his mother wrote about his life in a letter read at the service.
"He told me, 'Mom, nine months in and out. No problem. I will be home before you know it,'" she wrote. "I hugged him, told him I loved him, and watched him drive away, not knowing that was the last time I'd see my son."
It's a feeling known well by the family of Marine Cpl. Bart Humlhanz. He was inspired to join the Marine Corps after 9/11. He was killed in Iraq in 2004.
"Even with the outcome as it was, he wouldn't have changed a thing," said his mother, Michele Carey.
A letter written two weeks before his death talks about going on a raid and emphasizes his love for his family. It's a love that the family hopes people will remember this Memorial Day.
"We love him, we miss him, and we are very proud of him," Carey said.