Engraving Day 2010: Sadness, Salutes and Even Some Smiles

Brooklyn and Jennifer Mayhle clearly know their way around art supplies. Their father’s name freshly engraved Tuesday afternoon on Panel 12-West of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, the two young girls in ponytails confidently approached the marble wall and began their handiwork: precisely etching their daddy’s name, “Stephen J. Mayhle,” on special sheets of rubbing paper, all under the watchful eye of their mother, Shandra.

Officer Stephen Mayhle was one of three Pittsburgh Police officers gunned down on April 4, 2009, as they responded to a domestic violence call in the Stanton Heights section of the city. Also killed that Saturday morning were Officers Eric Kelly and Paul Sciullo II, fellow members of Pittsburgh’s 5th District. It marked the deadliest single day in the 153-year history of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.

On Tuesday, Deputy Police Chief Paul Donaldson, a silver-haired, 34-year veteran of the department, led a contingent of family members, other loved ones and police officials on the five-hour trip to downtown Washington, DC, to witness the three officers’ names engraved on the Memorial. It was all part of the Engraving Day ceremony, an event held each spring to symbolically commemorate the service and sacrifice of all of the men and women who have given their lives for the safety and protection of others.

As engravers Kirk Bockman and Jim Lee meticulously worked on Panels 12-West and 14-West—a process that took about 20 minutes—family members and other onlookers watched intently, almost mesmerized by the obvious skill and precision of the two craftsmen. They know the process well: Bockman and Lee have engraved all 18,983 names on the Memorial. Once the sand-blasted stencils were removed and the newly engraved names revealed, Memorial Fund Chairman and CEO Craig Floyd invited each of the three families—the Mayhles, the Kellys and the Sciullos—to come forward and have the honor of doing the first etching of their loved ones’ names.

Next, Deputy Chief Donaldson stepped forward to do etchings of each of the three officers’ names as well. After each one, he stood and led a silent, final salute to a fallen brother, members of the Pittsburgh Police Command Staff standing directly behind and following his lead.

After the formal ceremony was completed, Memorial Fund staff brought gifts for the two Mayhle girls, as well as Eric Kelly’s young granddaughter. Reveling in their new pink-purple hats and charm necklaces, the three girls began hugging and dancing and running to the Memorial’s reflecting pool to dip their fingers in the chilly waters. A poignant reminder that, even amidst the incredible pain and sorrow felt over the loss of three more law enforcement heroes, what these officers stood for and worked toward—a safer world for the next generation—is still very much alive.

To view a press release for today’s ceremony, please visit, http://www.nleomf.org/newsroom/news-releases/engraving-day-2010-day-of.html.