BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Participating in a funeral procession is a ride no law enforcement officer ever wants to take.
Still, on Friday, countless officers from all over the country honored the life of fallen Baton Rouge Police Officer Matthew Gerald, escorting him on his final resting place in the Louisiana National Cemetery. Among them was Lt. Kevin Garig with the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office.
"The funeral services never get easy, but you still have to get up and you have to do it," Garig said. "We may not specifically have known the officer that passed away, we're still a family. When someone in your family hurts, everybody hurts."
Garig has participated in these processions several times before. Each one, he said, can be emotional, but this one is a little different. The ride comes after two attacks on law enforcement in as many weeks: one in Dallas and another right here at home in Louisiana.
Thousands lined the roadway as the procession went by. Garig said seeing an outpouring of community support is very meaningful.
"It's that kind of inspiration that most officers need, especially at a time like this," Garig said.
Garig first joined the force as a teenager, after working as a dispatcher in high school. He said these sorts of rides remind him of the risks of the job.
"One day you put this vest on, this uniform on, and you may not make it home, and that goes through your head, but at the end of the day it's what you love, and that's how I can describe what it is to me, it's doing what I love," Garig said. "I'm in the best profession in the world in my opinion."
And his is a profession and calling that has united so many.
"You grieve for a little while, you pick up the pieces, you do your job, because that's what you do as a police officer. You put your boots on, you protect the people you swore to protect," Garig said.