NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- More than 30 fallen New Jersey officers were remembered and honored at the 28th annual "Blue Mass" in Newark on Thursday.
Police say this year has been especially tough mourning so many law enforcements deaths due to the pandemic, CBS2's Natalie Duddridge reported.
The Essex County Police & Fire Emerald Society Pipe Band ushered in hundreds of New Jersey officers and their families to the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and they were joined by dignitaries, including Gov. Phil Murphy and first lady Tammy Murphy.
They were all on hand to pay tribute to brothers and sisters in blue, gone too soon.
"To embrace four brothers who fell in the line of duty, as well as other officers who have died during last two years when a global pandemic prevented us from gathering," said Archbishop of Newark Cardinal Joseph Tobin.
Among the fallen was 42-year-old U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was originally from South River. He died on Jan. 7, the day after defending the Capitol from a mob trying to interrupt the electoral count.
Det. Joseph Seals of the Jersey City Police Department was 39 years old when he was shot and killed at Bayview Cemetery as part of the domestic terror attack on a Jewish business in December 2019. He was a 13-year veteran, husband and father of five.
"Everyone had a family that lost their loved one. They were all extra special that lost their lives," Essex County Sheriff Armando B. Fontoura said.
Officers said this year's service was particularly heavy with so many lives lost to COVID-19.
"The last 18 months have been particularly difficult for the city of Newark Police Department. We've lost nine members, just to the coronavirus, alone, in the line of duty. So that's fully one-third of all police-related deaths in the state of New Jersey," Newark Public Safety Director Brian O'Hara said.
The church service also acknowledged the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and those who lost their lives and continue to due to related cancers and illnesses.
Everyone in attendance promised never to forget all of the brave first responders and their sacrifices.
for more features.