It's a project four years in the making with an important goal - honoring Virginia's public safety officers who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Now, the Virginia Public Safety Memorial is on its way to becoming a reality.
It's surprising to learn, but Virginia is one of only five states that doesn't already have a permanent memorial honoring public safety officers killed in the line of duty. Now, for more than 800 Virginians who paid the ultimate price, that is about to change.
"Men and women of Virginia have died in uniform, in service to the people of the commonwealth," said Governor McDonnell.
"For people that they don't know, that they've never met, for people that may even mean them harm," said Senator Tim Kaine.
"They were indeed heroes for how they lived not how they died," said Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
It sits in the shadow of Virginia's capitol, the center of the commonwealth, for which more than 800 officers laid down their lives.
"Regardless of what political party you may ascribe to, this memorial highlights the values that we all share, honoring those who risked their lives to protect our communities," said Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe.
It's a project started during the Kaine administration. Four years later, the Virginia Public Safety Foundation is breaking ground.
"The monument that will be constructed here will bear the engraved name of every Virginia public safety officer who has died in the line of duty," said Virginia Public Safety Foundation President Hadden Culp.
It will be a permanent reminder.
"There is no greater duty of government, I think. than public safety," said McDonnell.
And for some, it will be a personal reminder of fallen friends.
"Then Master Police Officer Mike Garbarino was killed in the line of duty," said Cuccinelli. "So I'm going to have a very personal opportunity or reason to come back repeatedly to remember."
Friday's groundbreaking marks the end of a four-year, $2 million fundraising effort by the Virginia Public Safety Foundation to construct the memorial.
The organization is now seeking $500,000 to fund the memorial's dedication and maintenance.Virginia Public Safety Foundation Press Release
RICHMOND – In a ceremony on Richmond's Capitol Square today, Virginia Public Safety Foundation (VPSF) joined Governor Bob McDonnell, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, and Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe to ceremonially break ground for construction of the Commonwealth Public Safety Memorial, a long-awaited monument to first responders who have died in the line of duty. The event marks the culmination of a four-year fundraising campaign to secure $2 million in funding for the memorial's construction.
The Commonwealth Public Safety Memorial will be constructed at Darden Garden on Virginia's Capitol Square in Richmond, just outside the General Assembly Building. The memorial will honor 832 public safety officers who have died in the line of duty in Virginia, as well as nearly 165,000 paid and volunteer first responders who serve every Virginia community. Virginia is one of only five states without a monument to public safety service.
"It is with an overwhelming sense of joy that we host this groundbreaking event, on behalf of our bravest public servants—our public safety officers—and with our deepest thanks to the thousands of individuals and businesses who have supported the Memorial Fund," said VPSF President and retired Prince William County Assistant Fire Chief Hadden Culp. "This is the culmination of nearly four years of dedicated work."
VPSF was named administrator of the memorial, charged with fundraising and construction, by Governor Tim Kaine in December 2009. Having secured the funding necessary to construct the memorial, VPSF will now seek to raise $500,000 in private donations in support of the memorial's dedication events and perpetual maintenance.