Police memorial planned here

Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Replacing blank pavers with engraved bricks at the Walk of Heroes are, from left, Barry White, Monette Fagan, Brian Moore and Barbara Capps.

If a holiday is worth having, then the sentiment should be felt all year long, or so some might say about Memorial Day for fallen heroes and those just as worthy from all walks of life.

That approach seemed to be taken by a couple of groups in Lewisburg last week as steps were taken at the Walk of Heroes in Rock Creek Park and within the walls of Police Headquarters.

"The Marshall County Walk of Heroes is for all types of people, but it, of course, includes veterans," said F&M Bank Vice President Barry White, who received a delivery of bricks that were placed last week.

Brick pavers from Farmington Road to the flag poles in the park have inscriptions including: Darnell Woods, Special Forces, Green Berets; Kay Cheek, beloved friend; Nora Carothers, worked like a man all her life, and; Ainslie, Staci & Renner Grosser, to name a few at random.

The sidewalk is a joint project of the bank and the city. Brick sales totally fund the Walk of Heroes, which started with nearly 400 bricks. There were about 40 in the second order and White says, "I've started another order."

White refers inquiries at F&M's Ellington Parkway office to Monette Fagan.

Dozens of blank bricks were being replaced Wednesday last week with inscribed bricks by Brian Moore, a city Public Works employee who's worked as a brick mason for Tim Wiser and Larry Davis.

Near where Moore makes a few deft moves with his trowel, there's a brick engraved that says: Carlton Bless, sheriff, 1982-90.

Meanwhile, Police Chief Chuck Forbis has been making plans for another way to honor heroes who fell as they worked to protect and serve.

National Police Week came and went here, but not without a report by Lewisburg's new police chief at the City Council's regular meeting this month.

The statistics are stunning.

In America, an officer is killed every 53 hours and a state-by-state breakdown ranks Tennessee as 15th in the nation. There were 181 officers killed in the line of duty last year. More than 18,200 names are engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. Among them is Billy Blackwell of the Lewisburg Police Department, who died Feb. 1, 1975.

Lewisburg's new police chief intends to honor Blackwell with a memorial planned for the front lobby of the police station. Forbis is uncertain of the design, but it's to have more than the policeman's name on stone

Blackwell's name, and those of Gene Leverette and J. Perry of the Marshall County Sheriff's Department are engraved in stone as part of a monument on the west lawn of the County Courthouse.

"I'm looking for a picture of Mr. Blackwell," Forbis said last week when asked about the memorial he proposed to City Council on May 13.

Councilman Robin Minor said he's taking up the cause and wants to confer with the Police Advisory Board about the proposed memorial.

Forbis continued, "I'm hoping I'll be able to get a photo of Mr. Blackwell in his uniform.

Using a photo "will help me decide about what can be done for a likeness or an engraving," Forbis said.

The memorial for Blackwell may include a description of how the officer died. It was during one of the most common kinds of police calls: a domestic, or family disturbance. They are recognized as typically among the most dangerous.

As envisioned by Forbis, the memorial would be "something, I think, the family would be proud of," the chief said.

He also envisions a formal dedication for the memorial in about a year during the annual remembrance for slain law officers. After the memorial is created, it may be on display at headquarters, awaiting final placement and dedication.