Someone’s son or daughter… someone’s mom or dad… someone’s brother or sister…someone’s friend. These were among the 338 people who had been involved in law enforcement and passed away in 2020. Roy Gomez was among those who were honored last Tuesday in the “Beyond the Call of Duty” ceremony at the Wharton County Fairgrounds in Crescent.
Gomez was a Wharton County sheriff’s deputy who died Oct. 26, 2020 from COVID-19 complications. His wife Karla Gomez, and sons Aaron and Joshua, and his parents Raul and Esther Gomez were on hand for the memorial.
“It’s moments like this that make tomorrow bearable,” Karla said. “When people remember my husband for his sacrifice, it’s a huge honor, and it’s just amazing.”
His mother and father were equally appreciative.
“I just feel grateful for everything and everybody,” Esther said.
Escorted by WCSO vehicles, the six motorcycles rode into the fairground parking lot where family, friends and colleagues of Gomez were waiting. The El Campo Fire Department had hoisted a large American flag above the trees where the small crowd waited in the shade.
Once the trailer parked, photos of the late officers were visible, including Gomez’ portrait. His mom, dad, wife, two daughters, sister and other loved ones were there to greet him. Sheriff Shannon Srubar said a few words before leading the crowd in prayer and in saying the Pledge of Allegiance.
Srubar first heard about the project several months ago when the group approached him about “The End of Watch Ride” regarding Deputy Gomez.
“This non-profit organization out of Washington State contacted me and said they wanted to come through Wharton County to honor the fallen members of law enforcement across the United States that made the sacrifice in 2020,” Srubar said. “Unfortunately, it was well over 300 officers that passed away in the line of duty … remembering the lives of these individuals, honoring the families that are dealing with sacrificing even till today.”
Jagrat Shah is the founder of the organization. Several of his friends who had been in law enforcement had died and he wanted a way to honor them. Two years ago, he came up with the idea of Beyond the Call of Duty.
“What we do is go around the nation to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice. This year We have 338 beautiful men and women on our memorial,” Shah said. “We will be travelling to 194 departments, visiting in 46 states in 84 days, a total of 4,200 miles. After we meet with the survivors, we talk with them about their loved ones. It’s a little bit more than a rolling memorial.”
Shah says there are three things to remember on this memorial.
“One is that everybody has a God-given name. God provided that name. It’s not a number, it’s not ‘hey, you,’ it’s not just a ‘some body,’” Shah said. “The second is they all wore a uniform of one sort or the other, whether it’s military or law enforcement. The third thing that you can’t see is they all bleed red. That’s the color of their blood. It’s not blue, it’s not black, it’s not white – it’s red.”
The survivors share the stories of their loved ones with other people who attend the memorial.
“Always let them (the survivors) know they are special and give them a hug,” Shah said. “and always give blessings to the families.”
The ride continues in Texas until Thursday before it goes to other states. “A Ride to Remember” is on Facebook, or YouTube, and its website: endofwatchride.com