A Photograph has Opened Doors for Woodstock Teen
Editor’s Note: Darleen Prem shares photos of Woodstock events with our magazine on a regular basis. When we saw this compelling photo of a young girl, obviously emotional during the city’s Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony honoring fallen officers, we dug a little deeper to find out what moved her that day. Apparently, the photo not only got our attention, but that of Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds.
By Candi Hannigan, ALM executive editor
Curtis and Cathy Kramer, their sons Will and Austin, and niece Katelyn Gann were enjoying dinner in downtown Woodstock when they decided to attend the Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony at The Park at City Center. It was a moving ceremony that brought emotions to the surface, with bagpipes and trumpet sounding a solemn tribute to fallen officers.
“At one point, they said if you’d like to stand up, you can. Members of the military or police, active or retired, you can stand up,” Curtis said. “I looked over at my wife and she’s crying, I was choking up, my niece was crying. Then I looked again and saw Katelyn standing up at full salute.”
It was an automatic response for Katelyn, a rising junior at Woodstock High School and member of the ROTC.
“I’m looking at all the officers and watching the color guard. The service started and I was kinda getting emotional. Then they played the bagpipes and had the officers line up. They finished with the roll call of the fallen officers, and had all the officers salute. I was blubbering like a baby. I looked at all the officers saluting, and I just stood up and saluted. It was the right thing to do.”
Curtis wasn’t the only one to notice Katelyn’s patriotic act.
As the family was leaving the ceremony, Ken Ball, chief deputy of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department, approached Katelyn and asked if he could give her a hug. Ball told her that he had been doing well keeping his emotions in check until he saw Katelyn’s emotional salute, and thanked the family for their support. Another officer stopped them on the way out and gave Katelyn a SWAT team challenge coin. Katelyn said her Aunt Cathy explained this was significant because officers carry coins for a number of reasons, including sentimental attachments or for good luck.
That was just the beginning. When Woodstock photographer Darleen Prem posted the photo on Facebook, asking if anyone knew the young lady saluting, Cathy Kramer responded with Katelyn’s name.
“That next morning, my uncle knocked on my door and said, you’re famous! Your picture is all over Facebook,” Katelyn said.
A few days later, a sheriff’s deputy visited Woodstock High School with a copy of the photo to help him locate her. Katelyn’s ROTC instructor, Gunnery Sgt. Keith Myrick, happened to be in the school office when the deputy arrived and was able to take him to Katelyn’s classroom.
The deputy was there to invite Katelyn and her family to a special ceremony and presentation by Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds.