The current memorial for fallen D.C. police officers is about 80 years old, but for the retired cops who find it especially meaningful, it looks even worse than that.
“Take a look, it’s crumbling, the day that my wife and I came here, it was full of leaves, the stench was terrible, you can see the whole thing is falling apart,” said retired officer Don Blake. The water inside the fountain, which is almost never turned on, is green and full of algae. “It’s not very pretty.”
But after years of effort, Blake’s hopes of seeing a new memorial get built is finally going to happen.
Current and former police leaders gathered outside police headquarters for a ceremonial ground breaking of a new Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Memorial.
The new memorial will feature a circular sidewalk around a new fountain that, per city regulations, will look identical to the old fountain. There will also be a gradually sloping granite wall, similar to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, with the names of the 125 officers who have died while serving the city etched into it.
In all, it will cost more than $4 million, Blake said.
Much of the fundraising for the wall was led by former Washington Post publisher Don Graham, who was also a former D.C. beat cop.
“I served briefly, but long enough to know what every officer knows,” said Graham. “Every one of them, any night they go on duty, could wind up with their name on this wall.”
He added, “I join all of you and every citizen in praying that there will never be another name added to this wall.”
Graham said the new memorial will be as much for former officers as it is for the current ones who put on a badge every day.
“We honor those who have died enforcing the law for us and we honor everyone who enforces the law for us,” said Graham. “This is all of our memorial.”
The hope is to have the new memorial finished in the next six to eight months.