JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A groundbreaking was held Wednesday morning for Jacksonville's first law enforcement memorial in front of the Veterans Memorial Arena.
It was the idea of 16-year-old Adam Resch. He developed the wall as the final step to earning the rank of Eagle Scout. He has been in the Boy Scouts since he was in first grade.
Resch said the cause is a personal one to him. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather were police officers.
"We were looking for a project to do, and I was looking around and we don't have a police memorial in Jacksonville," Resch said. "There were 60 officers killed and it was really important for this to be done, so I set on it."
While memorials for law enforcement exist all over the country, Jacksonville did not have one for the dozens of officers killed in the line of duty.
Resch wanted to make sure the memorial sent a strong message about the sacrifices law enforcement officers make.
"It means to honor the lives of the officers that were killed in the line of duty," Resch said. "They gave their lives to protect the citizens, and we need to give back and say thank you."
Resch was having trouble finding an approved location for his project until he teamed up with the Fraternal Order of Police. The group was working on a similar memorial project.
"We really felt like having a place where officers and their families could go, sort of celebrate the life and sacrifice of those who died in the line of duty. This is a big deal for Jacksonville," said Teresa Eichner, of the FOP.
The city gave Resch and the FOP 800 square feet in front of the arena to build the memorial. It will be 9 feet tall and in a semicircle shape.
Resch is excited to see the finished project he has put so much effort into.
"We wanted it to be very tall. It's going to be enormous to represent the size of the project," Resch said. "It's going to be black and blue to represent the thin blue line emblem, which is the officers and what they do to protect us."
The memorial is capturing the hearts of other families in the community.
"Our son, Ray Shinholser, was killed in the line of duty with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office in 1988," said Charles Shinholser. "So it means so much to us that the officers will never be forgotten."
Shinholser hopes the memorial will help people understand the risk officers take every day protecting our lives.
The memorial is expected to be completed in may of 2014. It will be surrounded by brick pavers available to purchase in honor of someone who died.
For more information, visit www.fallenofficersmemorial.webs.com.
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