Washington • Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Aaron Beesley saved countless lives in rescue operations. Ogden police Officer Jared Francom charged head-on into dangerous situations. Border Patrol Officer Nicholas Ivie helped secure the nation's southernmost boundary.
All three Utahns died in the line of duty last year and were honored Wednesday in Washington along with 318 of their fellow law enforcement officers.
"I did feel Aaron a few times," Kristie Beesley, the wife of the late trooper, said after Wednesday's ceremony, her eyes welling with tears. "I know he was watching."
Hundreds of uniformed police officers filled the Capitol's east lawn during the emotional service in which each slain officers' name was read aloud.
A short distance away, their names were also added to the National Peace Officers Memorial, the only monument in Washington that is, sadly, always expanding.
"We can never repay our debt to these officers and their families, but we must do what we can, with all that we have, to live our lives in a way that pays tribute to their memory," President Barack Obama said at the ceremony. "That begins, but does not end, by gathering here with heavy hearts, to carve their names in stone, so that all will know them, and that their legacy will endure."
The east side of the memorial now sports the names of the three fallen Utah officers. In all, there are 111 Utahns' names on the memorial.
Erin Francom, whose husband was killed in a shootout in Ogden, said he would have been proud to see such a service.
"It's just a huge honor to be able to be here, to experience this with our family and friends and all the other police officers," she said.
Utah Highway Patrol Col. Danny Fuhr, the agency's superintendent, said it was appropriate to spend a day honoring the officers who have given their ultimate sacrifice in protecting public safety.
"We should celebrate the sacrifice they made," Fuhr said.
Flags flew at half-staff, and police officers from various parts of the country lined the exit to Wednesday's service, saluting the families of the fallen cops.
"It's just an honor for us that everyone puts forth so much effort to remember our officers and make sure they're not forgotten," said Christy Ivie, whose husband was killed along the U.S.-Mexico border. "It's inspiring to see how they take care of their people."