When Erin Morgan places a wreath on the graves of fallen law enforcement, she thinks of her police officer husband, who serves as an everyday reminder of why she started Arizona’s Fallen Heroes wreath program.
“The bottom line is if my husband, God forbid, if I were in a position where my husband was killed in the line of duty, I would want to know that people were still saying his name 100 years from now,” Morgan said. “These people’s lives matter and we should never forget that.”
The program, which started in Pennsylvania, seeks to acknowledge the sacrifices made by fallen law enforcement and their families.
Morgan started the Arizona program in 2015 after helping with the Pennsylvania iteration. According to Morgan, 295 state law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty.
Morgan and her volunteers seek to place a wreath in honor of every fallen officer in Arizona no matter how long ago they passed.
“It does not matter if an officer died last year or 150 years ago like Tombstone Marshal Fred White,” Morgan said. “Every fallen officer deserves to be remembered."
The program has placed a wreath for a police department in every county in Arizona, including Coconino County. Coconino has lost eight law enforcement officers in the line of duty, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks deaths across the nation.
Morgan herself has helped place or ship wreaths in honor of fallen officers in the Flagstaff Police Department and the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office; this includes two wreaths at the Arizona Peace Officers Memorial in Phoenix recognizing fallen Flagstaff Police Officers Tyler Jacob Stewart and Jeff Adam Moritz.
The two men are the only Flagstaff police officers killed in the line of duty.
The Fallen Heroes Wreath Program has also placed three wreaths in honor of fallen deputies belonging to the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office has lost three deputies since 1908: James Michael Young, John B. Jamison, and Deputy Sheriff Escapulo Domingez, who was killed in 1908.
Morgan said a wreath placed on the grave of a fallen officer can be a great relief to the family even if many years have passed since the incident.
“One wife of a DPS officer buried in Coconino County sent me a letter after we made a wreath for her husband,” Morgan said. “She said 'no one had mentioned my husband’s name in 40 years until this program.'”
If you are interested in volunteering for the program or know of a fallen officer that should be remembered, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to Arizona Fallen Heroes Wreath Program’s Facebook page.