WASHINGTON DC — Visits to the National Law Enforcement Memorial by survivors during Police Week is an emotional and powerful experience. On Tuesday, three Hoosier survivor families made that trip.
Marlin and Becky Pickett, the parents of Boone County Sheriff’s Deputy Jake Pickett, said it triggered a flood of tears.
“It’s very hard to see my son's name on this wall. It’s very hard to see all these names on this wall,” Marlin said.
Marlin added that seeing his son’s name adds a permanence to the fact he is forever absent from their lives.
“It’s more of a reality when you get to see his name and touch it. It’s tough, it really is,” he said.
The family of Terre Haute Police Officer Rob Pitts says they are still trying to figure out how to navigate a world without him. Pitts’ daughter Brooke says her father’s death still doesn’t feel real.
"It just doesn’t feel right, I guess, that I should be here, or that my dad’s name should be on the wall. It doesn’t feel like it should be happening," she said. "Just for that split-second I'll reach for my phone just to tell him how good of a day I had, or even if I had a bad day and just need to talk to someone. Then it hits you he’s not there."
Bellinda Bollman, the wife of Indiana Conservation Officer Sgt. Ed Bollman, says her experience at the memorial and Police Week, has brought a mix of emotions.
"It’s a little overwhelming, but I have a lot of pride seeing his name on the wall," she said.
Bollman added that her pride is elevated by the fact that she now knows her husband won’t be forgotten.
“To know that so many people are trying to honor him and remember him does make me feel like he is living on,” she said.
For these families, and countless others honoring fallen officers this week, there is no returning to normal. There’s just the new normal--one that’s held up by the knowledge they aren’t alone in their pain, and the promise that their loved one will always be remembered.