A spotlight shone on the casket of Const. Adrian Oliver as eight of his fellow Mounties carried it to the stage. A Canadian flag draped overtop as they set it down, holding back tears under the weight on their shoulders and their hearts.
About 6,000 officers, family, friends and members of the community packed into the Langley Events Centre Tuesday for the 28-year-old Surrey RCMP constable's regimental funeral, second only to a state funeral. Waves of red serge filled the lower level to the point that it was standing room only for many others - but everyone stood in a silent salute, whether or not they had seats.
Officers came from as far as Australia to attend, clutching their hats to their chests in a solemn and dignified show of respect. About 4,200 people participated in the parade before the ceremony for the fallen officer, who died in a car accident on Nov. 13 at 148th Street and 64th Avenue while on duty.
Adrian's twin brother, Const. Benjamin Oliver, quite literally spent his entire life with his brother. He said that in 28 years, the two had only been apart for a total of 12 months.
"I always considered Adrian to be the better half of us in all aspects of life," he said, "and I strive every day to become a fraction of the man that Adrian was.
"I've lost my best friend in this entire world."
His spouse, Const. Shelagh Mitchell, spoke fondly of the four years she'd known Adrian, delivering a heartfelt speech before the crowd. Adrian's parents, Kate and Chief Supt. Joe Oliver, stood at the front alongside hundreds, if not thousands, of their son's friends.
"Adrian, your kindness inspires me to be a better person, your goofiness reminds me to stay a kid at heart and your dedication motivates me to try my best in anything I do," she said through tears.
"You are the love of my life and I'm so proud and thankful that you're mine. The love we shared is enough to fill me for a lifetime. I will think about you every second of every day. I love you."
Chief Supt. Andrew Boland, a Criminal Operations Officer for Newfoundland and Labrador, first met the Olivers while working in Williams Lake when Adrian was four. Working alongside Adrian's father, Boland watched the twins grow up both aspiring to follow in their father's footsteps.
"We say goodbye to Adrian - a true love, a son, a brother, a friend and a colleague," he said. "We will forever remember Adrian as a kind and giving man with huge and loving heart."
Police officers and emergency personnel from around the world came to honour Adrian.
"It was quite a display of camaraderie," said Const. Craig van Herk of the Langley RCMP detachment.
Langley officers, along with others from around the Lower Mainland, worked on traffic duty near the LEC, or took up shifts in Surrey to allow Mounties from that city to attend the funeral.
Members of plainclothes units were out on Tuesday working in uniform doing traffic or general duty patrols, and volunteer Auxiliary officers were out in force as well, van Herk said.
From Canada, officers came from at least as far away as Ontario, in addition to police from throughout B.C. There were officers from Australia and the U.S., firefighters, Corrections officers, municipal police, even Coast Guard and U.S. Homeland Security.
Bagpipes, horns and drums sounded as officers marched the casket in and out of the arena. Outside, everyone gathered as it was put into the back of the hearse.
Boland said Adrian will be cremated and that it's too early to determine the RCMP's plans to honour his legacy, but noted that his family has taken solace in the show of honour and pride for Adrian at the ceremony.
"They're overwhelmed with the support and the turnout with the people here today," he said.