FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – It can be hard for families who have lost someone dear to them to find the holiday spirit, especially those that have lost a loved one in the line of duty.
Two women more than 600 miles apart connected through social media to turn their tragedies into an honorable holiday tradition. In doing so, they have helped other families like theirs begin to heal.
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 and 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.
“During the season of giving, this is a wonderful way to honor those who gave everything, “said Gov. Andy Beshear. “I know my family joins many others across Kentucky in remembering the service and sacrifice of those who are not with us this holiday season.”
Michelle shared photos of the wreaths in a Facebook group for families of fallen officers. Brenda Tiffany, mother of fallen Kentucky State Police Trooper Cameron Ponder, saw the post and made a comment.
From there, Michelle and Brenda immediately connected.
“Both of our families have been through the same thing,” added Pawloski. “I sent her a wreath for her son Cameron and before I knew it, we were sending 37 wreaths to the Kentucky State Police.”
Tiffany says the original wreath honored her son, but she wanted to be able to honor all those who were part of the Kentucky State Police. The agency has 37 fallen officers dating back to 1948.
This is the second year KSP received Christmas wreaths for their fallen with the help of Tiffany. The wreaths are placed at each gravesite of fallen KSP units in memory of Trooper Ponder, who died in the line of duty on September 13, 2015.
For the families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty, this time brings with it a sadness no words can describe, said Tiffany.
The Fallen Hero Wreath Program wraps their arms around the families of the fallen. Their gift of love reminds us, when we need it most, our beloved officers are never forgotten.
The online Fallen Trooper and Officer Memorial can be found on the KSP webpage at, https://kentuckystatepolice.org/fallenmemorial/. To learn more or to contribute to the Fallen Heroes Wreath Program, visit https://www.fallenheroeswreathprogram.org/.