Two women across state lines turn tragedies into an honorable holiday tradition
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 3, 2021) – The Kentucky State Police (KSP) has 37 fallen officers who have died in the line of duty since 1948, and every year, the families face the holidays without their loved ones. Two women, over 600 miles apart, are continuing a tradition meant to ease the pain of the families by placing wreaths at the gravesite of fallen KSP units.
“During the holiday season, this is a meaningful way to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “My family joins with others across the commonwealth to remember the fallen officers who gave everything to protect and serve our citizens.”
The Fallen Heroes Wreath Program was started by the family of Philadelphia police officer John Pawlowski, who was killed in the line of duty on February 13, 2009. Pawlowski’s sister-in-law, Michelle Pawlowski, was inspired by the national ‘Wreaths Across America’ program. With the help of her family, they produced and placed Christmas wreaths at the final resting places of fallen law enforcement officers during the holiday season.
Palowski’s inspiration has always been her brother-in-law, but through the growth of this project, she has reached countless fallen officers’ families across the country.
“It means a lot to me that it’s in his memory. A lot was lost that we’ll never get back, and this is something we can do to remember them,” said Ms. Pawlowski.
A social media post by Ms. Pawlowski about the wreath program caught the eye of Brenda Tiffany, mother of Trooper Ponder, who died in the line of duty on September 13, 2015. The two women connected online and, since that moment, have worked together to provide Christmas wreaths for KSP’s fallen officers. This is the third year KSP has received Christmas wreaths for fallen officers.
“The wreath program is a visual way to remember our loved one who is unable to be with us. I remember the first wreath I received and what it did for my broken heart,” said Ms. Tiffany. “I pray the families who receive a wreath feel the love poured into them and find peace knowing the fallen will never be forgotten.”
The mission of KSP is to promote public safety through service, integrity, and professionalism using partnerships to prevent, reduce and deter crime and the fear of crime, enhance highway safety through education and enforcement, safeguard property and protect individual rights.
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