GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. -- The Clay County Sheriff's Office is preparing to mark a painful anniversary.
One year ago this Saturday, Detective David White was shot and killed responding to a meth house. A second detective Matt Hanlin was also wounded.
"I think it's really been an awakening of the realities of the world that we all live in," said Sheriff Rick Beseler in an exclusive interview with Action News.
Sheriff Beseler says he remembers the earth-shattering phone call like it was yesterday when two of his men were shot in the line of duty. Detective David White didn't survive.
"Everyone who knew David and everyone who was involved in all of this will never ever forget, and never be the same."
Friday, his department will honor the fallen hero and his family. It won't be enough to bring Detective White back. But Sheriff Beseler says it is important never to forget.
"These officers who go out there routinely risk their lives every day. They know it can happen to them, too, but I think it's important for them to know that a sacrifice that they might make will not go unnoticed."
He says the past year has been almost a blur of painful reminders for many wearing the badge. That day, February 16, 2012, has changed this entire department.
"We have really come of age I'd say because we went 100 years in this agency with no officer dying in an adversarial action, and somewhat felt isolated because, at the time, that that never occurred," he said. "We all realize now that we're not isolated. Clay County is not a sleepy little community that it used to be."
The department will break ground on a new law enforcement memorial on Friday. They will also award medals of honor to Detective Matt Hanlin and other members of the team.
They also have awards for detective Whites family who will be in attendance.