On a beautiful, yet humid, Saturday morning, a lone car sat in the parking lot of the Houston Police Officers Memorial. Its side read “Just married.” The other cars that slowly started to fill the lot and line Memorial Drive bore a different pair of words: Houston Police.
“Although it’s a joyous occasion, it’s also bittersweet,” said HPD Officer Rick Barajas, who also serves as president of The Thin Blue Line Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club.
Saturday’s wedding ceremony was bittersweet because the bride’s father, HPD Officer Richard Martin, died just more than two years ago. As he laid spikes to end a police chase along North Kirkwood, investigators say a robbery suspect’s car hit and killed the father of two. That suspect would eventually shoot himself and die in the hospital.
After Richard’s death, Houston officers stepped up to support the family however they could, even cheering on his son Tyler at his football games.
“It just feels good to know that people love me,” Tyler told KHOU 11 at the time.
On the third Father’s Day weekend without Richard Martin, his daughter asked for a different kind of support; She wanted her family in blue there when she married Daniel Florek.
“It’s an honor,” Barajas said. “As a law enforcement motorcycle club, we try to be there in those occasions, back our brothers up.”
Cynthia chose the memorial, she said, to honor Richard.
“This place represents her father,” said Cynthia’s mother Kimberly Martin. “It’s sacred ground to have her father present for her special day.”
Before she walked down the traditional aisle, Cynthia Martin Florek, passed the men and women who wore the same uniform as her dad, escorted by Houston Police Officers Union president Ray Hunt.
“It means everything,” Cynthia said. “It’s amazing to see the support that they have.”
In her bouquet, she carried a memory of her father: a single blue rose sculpted from his uniform.
Hunt gave Cynthia away, jokingly warning her now husband that she “had a lot of dads in police uniforms.”
“She was such a daddy’s girl,” Kimberly said. “I wanted nothing more than for Richard to be here to physically be able to see her.”
In a way, Richard was there - in every officer and every badge.
“That’s what we do,” said Barajas. “We don’t forget.”
For that, the bride and her family are grateful.
“Thank you,” Cynthia said to all the officers who attended, “But that’s not even enough. It really means a lot.”
“To see everyone stepping up for him, there are no words to describe that,” added Kimberly.