A story from Pierce County Executive, Bruce Dammeier.
Sadly, there are too many news stories that remind us of the dangerous jobs our first responders have. Earlier this month, a Fircrest police officer was sprayed in the face with bear mace during a traffic stop. Last month, Central Pierce Fire & Rescue led the response to a dramatic fire at a Puyallup cold storage facility that required a one-mile radius shelter in place order – while our firefighters were onsite.
And tragically, sometimes our heroes lose their lives in the service of our community. Our responsibility is to never forget their loss…their stories…their families… their colleagues. Now we have a appropriate place to honor and remember them.
Our new First Responders Memorial is positioned just off the Nollmeyer Lane entrance to the County-City Building (named for Tacoma Police Officer Craig Nollmeyer who lost his life intervening in a horrific domestic violence incident in 1985). The memorial is close enough to be a reminder to those entering the building, but far enough away to allow visitors to have a quiet time of reflection.
The 92 names etched into stone were spouses, parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles. And they were also colleagues, neighbors and friends to people in Pierce County. They served as Pierce County deputies, Lakewood police officers, U.S. marshals, U.S. park rangers, Army sergeants, Tacoma firefighters, and more. We lost them beginning in 1891 and, sadly, those losses continue to this year.
What they had in common is that they died while serving us. But each of them has a life story that is distinct and unique to them. Part of the motivation to create the memorial was to have a beautiful place that family members, friends, and co-workers could make sure that story continues to be told.
We recently held an event to dedicate the memorial and I was touched to see all those who gathered and reflected on those they loved and lost.
This video powerfully captures the spirit and inspiration of the morning:
My thanks to everyone who made the memorial and dedication possible. Namely, Chris Cooley from the Executive’s Team for heading up the effort, Kyle Schmidtke for his simple but powerful design, former Councilmember Connie Ladenburg for her guidance and perseverance, and the members of the advisory committee for their input and support.
I hope you will take the time to visit the memorial, reflect on the lives of those we lost, and ponder how blessed we are to have men and women who will face danger to protect our community. It’s important that we never forget them.
Enjoy this beautiful fall weather and Go M’s!