Last weekend, Nebraska laid to rest a hometown hero.
Joseph Lemm, a member of the National Guard and a detective with the NYPD, was honored by hundreds of people who came out to pay their respects. Gov. Pete Ricketts and Sen. Ben Sasse were among the speakers.
According to Omaha.com:
“To the people of Beemer, Jan. 16 will forever be known as Joseph Lemm Day.
The declaration of the special day is just one more accolade for the fallen guardsman: a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star awarded posthumously and the love of a community that came together Saturday to remember its very own “Superman.”
Lemm, 45, a technical sergeant in the Air National Guard and a New York City detective, was killed Dec. 21 during a Taliban suicide attack in Afghanistan.
When funeral services were held Dec. 30 in New York, thousands of civilians, military personnel and police officers from departments across the state lined the streets outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral.”
This weekend, a funeral was held for Lemm in Nebraska:
“On Saturday, the bleachers and folding chairs on the floor of the West Point-Beemer Junior-Senior High School gym were filled as his Nebraska family and friends joined state officials to commemorate his life.
The ceremony began with the national anthem and a prayer, followed by comments from a half-dozen speakers, including Gov. Pete Ricketts.
“It’s lives like Joe Lemm that inspire all of us,” Ricketts said, before officially proclaiming Jan. 16 a day dedicated to Lemm. “It’s lives like Joe Lemm that have made this country great. It’s lives like Joe Lemm that allow us to have the most wonderful place in the world to live, right here in Nebraska.”
Light snow dusted the Beemer streets as people entered the high school gymnasium. Lemm’s mother, Shirley Lemm of Wisner, who had donned an American flag scarf and a shield pin with his NYPD badge number — 3689 — on it, remembered how people were naturally drawn to her son.
“You could just feel it around him. He had that magnetism,” she said.
The town of 700 that once gathered to watch him shoot hoops and play football now congregated to remember his accomplishments on a different kind of field.
It was his third deployment. He’d been to Iraq and Afghanistan before, and this one was supposed to end next May. In New York, fellow officers called him “Superman” because of his square jaw and dark hair. He had made more than 400 arrests and received five commendations.”
Shortly before 9/11, Lemm joined the NYPD. When the towers were hit, Lemm stepped up to the plate.
“Lemm joined the NYPD nine months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He was among those searching for survivors in the wreckage that Monturo said many now call “Ground Hero.”
Master Sgt. Christopher Drews is a New York City police officer who worked with Lemm in the Bronx and who has been a member of the same Air National Guard unit in which Lemm served. Drews joined four other NYPD officers at the Saturday ceremony.
Others who spoke included State Sen. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft, who represents the Beemer area; U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Lincoln; U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse; and Maj. Gen. Roger Lempke, on behalf of U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer.”
When the service was over, Lemm’s mother Shirley said she can still feel her son’s presence.
“Afterward, people remained in the gym, reminiscing, visiting with Shirley Lemm and Lemm’s brother, Brian, and watching a video commemorating Joe Lemm’s life.
Speaking to a friend, Shirley Lemm said her son isn’t gone.
“He’s here,” she said. “His spirit’s back home.””