Baton Rouge families attend ceremonies at National Police Memorial in honor of fallen loved ones

Baton Rouge families attend ceremonies at National Police Memorial in honor of fallen loved ones

WASHINGTON, DC (WAFB) - National Police Week will take on heavy meaning for many families in Baton Rouge, as several of our own fallen heroes are honored and remembered.

They described the emotions of seeing their loved ones added to the National Police Memorial in Washington, DC.


National Police Memorial Ceremony Preview

"It's a place of honor, a place where all these names on the wall or recognized," said Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. "As you look around with the notes and patches and flowers and wreaths, it's a very emotional place."

As the water flows in the fountain, so does the heartache, pain and memories of those taken away.

"It's hard," said Tonja Garafola, widow of Brad Garafola, a deputy with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office killed in the July ambush shooting. "I do everything. I do it for him."

"You know they are here. You know they are looking down upon us. You kind of want to say you are sorry because they sacrificed so much for us," Dabadie added.

"It is sad to see the names on this one, so many officers that have lost their lives to protect us," said Nefthali Sanchez.

"Such love for Matt and for all of the fallen officers," said Ronnie Gerald, the father of Matthew Gerald, an officer with the Baton Rouge Police Department killed in the July ambush shooting.

"I'm drawing the people because all of the names of the fallen officers who got shot," said Samuel Sanchez, a 5-year-old boy.

"I am glad my son is here to see the many names of the officers on the wall, that it is not only few that we have lost in Baton Rouge, but it is all across the United States. It should not be this many," Nefthali Sanchez explained.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of names are in the walls at the National Police Memorial in honor of all the men and women who have died in the line of duty.

As a keepsake, families can color over each name with their officer's name visible through the blue.

"Having to let your kid color their dad's name on a wall was kind of tough," said Dechia Gerald, widow of Matthew Gerald.

"[It's] overwhelming to see all the officers on that wall, so many sacrifices made, so many other people who were in the same position we are in," Tonja Garafola added.

Through the heartache, there are miracles, such "Baby Buttons" and signs their loved ones may be gone but they will never be forgotten by family, friends or even history.

"It's very emotional right now," Dabadie explained.

"What they are doing is a great thing for the kids and her and I know they missing quite a bit," added Ronnie Gerald.

The memorial service will be held Monday at the US Capitol at 10 a.m. Central.

Click here for more about the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

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