Close to 500 Everett High School students, faculty and staff gathered at the Archie Rich stadium at the close of the school day on Wednesday to honor the 9/11 first responders and to pay special tribute to a Florida police officer with Lansing ties.
Jeffrey Kocab was a police officer in Tampa, Florida. He died in the line of duty in June after a traffic stop turned tragic. He was a 1996 Everett High graduate.
This 9/11 memorial is an annual event at Everett High School.
"We keep an eye open all year long for those who've served their country in any capacity and obviously it ties in nicely with 9/11," said David Schaberg, the president of the Everett High School Alumni Association.
Kocab and another Tampa police officer, David Curtis were gunned down by a 24-year-old who was wanted on an outstanding warrant when Curtis pulled him over. Kocab left behind his wife Sarah who was nine months pregnant at the time.
Kocabs uncle, Bill Schellhammer and sister-in-law Jamie Root spoke to the students about service and respect and all that the servicemen and women do for our country.
"All they wanted to do was do their job, protect their community, put the bad guys in jail and make a difference," said Schellhammer.
They both spoke about the type of man Kocab was: energetic, honorable, and a family man who was just doing the job he loved. Shortly after his death, his wife delivered their daughter Lily, stillborn. It was a tough tragedy that was compounded.
"My sister takes comfort in knowing that him and their beautiful daughter Lily are in the hands of Jesus," said Jamie Root.
The family says they are taking each day one at a time as they being to heal. They reminded the students to always repsect those who day in and day out risk their lives."
"They are the heroes. They run in while everyone else is running out," said Schellhammer.
Everett High School is looking for donations for a plaque to be put up at the school in Kocab's honor. If you'd like to make a donation send them to Everett High School 3800 Stabler Street, Lansing, MI 48910, attention to John Zielinksi. Any questions can be directed to him, firstname.lastname@example.org