Today is National Peace Officer Memorial Day, and the family of a Pella officer killed on duty 38 years ago continues to remember his legacy. John E. Van Haaften was shot and killed in April of 1980 while conducting an undercover drug bust in Knoxville. His daughter Tricia Van Zee says her father loved the community and serving and protecting the public, as the many officers around the country do every day, including those who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice. Sharyl Hanthorn was married to John when he was killed, and she honors him annually with a scholarship given to graduating high school seniors. She hopes his legacy lives on through those students.
The Avenue of Flags will go up at Graceland Cemetery in Knoxville on the morning of May 25th and stay up for Memorial Day to remember those who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. More than 250 flags will be raised, with a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps following the raising ceremony at 7 a.m. on the 25th. Mike Kuhn with Marion County Veterans Affairs says a large number of veterans and volunteers help with the event because they’re patriots, love their country, and many have served or had a relative who served, or have lost a loved one and the event is a way to honor their memory.