Fallen officers honored at vigil

September 17, 2009 8:39:55 PM PDT
The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation held a reception and vigil on Thursday night for Gold Star families. They're relatives of officers killed or catastrophically injured in the line of duty. The vigil was held at the police memorial just east of Soldier Field.

Governor Quinn, Mayor Daley and Superintendent Jody Weis were all on hand for the emotional gathering.

"It is so beautiful to feel the healing taking place tonight in our hearts because we are together and see the support of the Chicago Police Department," said Donna Marquez, CPD Gold Star Families.

"The people of Chicago wanted to help build this memorial and through payroll savings and corporate sponsors and then we built the memorial," said Commander Frank Gross, Chicago Police.

The Police Memorial Foundation is dedicated to honoring the lives and memories of fallen heroes. Scores of families and supporters were gathered at the memorial site.

"It is our chance to say we haven't forgot about you. Sometimes when the flags are raised and the funeral is over, people think they were forgot about. This is to let them know, we're here to help you and help your families," said Philip Cline, executive director, Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.

The memorial was meant to be a permanent reminder to the world of 541 fallen officers and heroes. On Thursday evening, four names were added to the memorial, including Officer Michael Robins who died in 2008, Officer Alejandro Valadez who died in 2009, Nathaniel Taylor who died on September 28, 2008, and Joseph Airhart who died on November 8, 2008.

"Most officers work a second job to put their kids through college. When you're injured, you can't do that. That's where the foundation comes in and helps their kids out," said Cline.

"We recognize the sacrifices of the officers that have been injured and we try to remember them, and in fact the police foundation provides support and assistance to the families of Chicago police officers who were killed or catastrophically injured in the line of duty," said Commander Gross.

"These families deserve everything. They sacrificed so much for the city of Chicago," said Cline.

Many buildings in Chicago were lit in blue lights in honor of the fallen officers.


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