WASHINGTON D.C., DC — ‘Eugene P. Cole’ is now inscribed among more than 21,000 names of fallen officers on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Several officers from departments across Maine took the time to trace out his name letter by letter, using pencil and paper to remember the Somerset County Sheriff’s Deputy Tuesday.
Cpl. Eugene Cole was shot and killed in the line of duty just over a year ago.
“It hits very close to home obviously for all of us,” William Bonney said after he took his turn tracing.
Bonney, the Deputy Chief for the Waterville Police Department, said he and a handful of officers make the trip every year during National Police Week to pay their respects.
To him, it is about showing up for the families and one another.
"It's absolutely amazing to be here to support the families and to just feel the camaraderie that exists in this location,” he said.
For those closest to Cpl. Cole, like Somerset County Deputy Sheriff Ron Blodgett, visiting the memorial brings back a wave of emotions.
Blodgett and Somerset County Deputy Sheriff Brian Crater were visiting the wall for the first time.
"You come to things like this, and you see the overwhelming support and then the name on the wall, and it brings it back to home again," Blodgett said. "It brings out some feelings that we were feeling last year at this time."
He joked that Cole would not have wanted all of the focus on him.
Blodgett remembers him as a guy 'everyone liked' who was genuinely funny and a little bit 'old school'.
"Gene was one-of-a-kind," he said.
Aside from keeping his memory alive, Blodgett and Crater said members of their department came for one thing: to support the Cole family.
"They gave everything when Gene was killed," Crater said. "So just being here to make sure they know they're not forgotten, just like Gene's not."
That same feeling has been felt by the families and fellow officers of 91 other fallen heroes from Maine recognized at the national memorial.
Someone placed the Maine state seal at every name on the wall -- including for officers Nathan Desjardins and Chris Gardner.
Their names were added to the wall last year.
As the officers try to move forward, they say they are all finding strength in one another.
"I knew I had to come down and do this for me personally,” Blodgett said. "On the way to healing, I think it's a good step."
A final memorial ceremony will be held on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning where a wreath will be laid to honor the 371 fallen officers recognized this year.