Wreathlaying 2009: Recognizing our Fallen Heroes and the Memorial that Honors Them

For Ginny Hill O’Branovich, Thursday was a day of memories.

Her last words to her husband, Alexandria (VA) Police Corporal Charlie Hill, on March 22, 1989, upon learning he was headed to a hostage situation: “I love you and be safe.” The knock on her door hours later – an Alexandria Police lieutenant and her pastor on the other side.

The groundbreaking of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 1989. The dedication ceremony two years later. The first time she saw Charlie’s name engraved on Panel 61-East, Line 5 of the Memorial. Their two sons, Charlie and Rob, did etchings that day. “I still have them,” she recalled.

Thursday, Ginny joined other survivors of officers killed in the line of duty, along with law enforcement leaders and other supporters, at the Memorial in Washington, DC, for the 18th annual Wreathlaying Ceremony. Commemorating the anniversary of the Memorial’s dedication on October 15, 1991, Wreathlaying pays special tribute to officers from DC, Maryland, Virginia and federal law enforcement who have died in the performance of duty over the past 12 months.

Two of those fallen heroes were special agents with the FBI: Sam Hicks and Paul Sorce. In his remarks, Joe Persichini, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, said these two men, like all of the 18,661 officers whose names are inscribed on the Memorial walls, left behind a legacy of courage, compassion and commitment. “They answered the call to duty because they knew no higher calling. It is our solemn responsibility to finish the job they started and always honor and remember them,” he said.

After the short speeches were done, Mrs. Hill O’Branovich and Mr. Persichini joined members of the United States Park Police Honor Guard in placing a wreath at the Memorial’s center medallion. Then, family members, friends and co-workers of the eight officers recognized at the ceremony placed roses there. With tears, hugs and salutes, they paused to remember and reflect on their loved ones.

As the rain picked up again, Park Police Lieutenant Kathy Harasek played Taps, and retired DC Metropolitan Police Officer Chris Jackson offered a bagpipe solo – a poignant conclusion to a ceremony marking 18 years of the nation’s monument to law enforcement service and sacrifice.

The following officers and their families were recognized Thursday as symbolic representatives of all fallen officers and law enforcement survivors from across the nation:

  • Second Lieutenant Francis J. Stecco, Fairfax County (VA) Police Department
    End of Watch: October 21, 2008
  • Special Agent Samuel S. Hicks, Federal Bureau of Investigation
    End of Watch: November 19, 2008
  • Special Agent Paul M. Sorce, Federal Bureau of Investigation
    End of Watch: March 9, 2009
  • Police Officer R. Mark Bremer, Frederick City (MD) Police Department
    End of Watch: October 23, 2008
  • Investigator Chadwick A. Carr, Green County (VA) Sheriff’s Office
    End of Watch: June 4, 2009
  • Deputy Sheriff Christopher D. Ray, Southampton County (VA) Sheriff’s Office
    End of Watch: August 29, 2009
  • Border Patrol Agent Cruz McGuire, United States Border Patrol
    End of Watch: May 21, 2009
  • Border Patrol Agent Robert W. Rosas, United States Customs and Border Protection
    End of Watch: July 23, 2009

May these and all fallen officers rest in peace, and may they always be remembered.