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Alabama Sheriffs Association memorial to 20 killed on duty

December 30, 2020 GMT
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Shanice Williams, left, and Joanne Williams, right, the daughter and wife of slain Lowndes County Sheriff "Big John" Williams, look on after the Alabama Sheriffs Association unveils a memorial wall, honoring sheriffs that were killed in the line of duty, in Montgomery, Ala., on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. (Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)
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Shanice Williams, left, and Joanne Williams, right, the daughter and wife of slain Lowndes County Sheriff "Big John" Williams, look on after the Alabama Sheriffs Association unveils a memorial wall, honoring sheriffs that were killed in the line of duty, in Montgomery, Ala., on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. (Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A memorial wall to Alabama sheriffs killed in the line of duty was unveiled Wednesday as a sheriff in full Highland regalia played “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes.

A brick wall in front of the Alabama Sheriffs Association headquarters in Montgomery holds plaques bearing the sheriffs’ names, counties and dates of death, The Montgomery Advertiser reported.

“This has been a dream of mine for a long time,” said the group’s current president, Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham. “In doing our research, we were surprised that there were 20 sheriffs who died in the line going back to 1845.”

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Cunningham said most were shot.

“They deserve this memorial, so they won’t be forgotten,” he said.

The most recent death was that of Lowndes County Sheriff John “Big John” Williams, who was shot Nov. 23, 2019. He was posthumously named 2020 sheriff of the year by the National Sheriffs’ Association, and the award was presented during Wednesday’s ceremony to his wife, Joann Williams, and daughter, Shanice Williams.

“I just want to thank everyone for remembering my dad,” Shanice Williams said afterward. “The award is a big honor for him. It makes us proud.”

The bagpipe tribute was played by Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade.