Memorial to Fallen Officers Becomes Reality in Alexandria

Saturday evening, Alexandria's Fallen Officers Memorial was dedicated at last, before dozens of relatives, officers and friends.

To Ginny Hill-Obranovich, the memorial's dedication is the fulfillment of a promise she made in 1989 when her husband and father of two small boys was killed by a suspect at a hostage incident. Officer Charlie Hill responded as part of the special operations team.

"When Charlie died I promised him he would never be forgotten, and this memorial will make all of them never forgotten, and that's what's most important to me," said Hill-Obanovich.

The memorial in front of Alexandria police headquarters is a tribute to 18 officers who died in the line of duty. Their names are etched on tall glass panels that will be illuminated at night.

There are benches with commemorative plaques that date back to 1823 when officers were called constables. The timeline also delivers a bit of Alexandria Police Department history to visitors, while a touch screen kiosk inside the lobby provides more detail on each officer.

The hope of a memorial dimmed just a few years ago. It was supposed to be part of the new Alexandria police headquarters but the city determined there wasn't enough money to cover the $300,000 price tag.

The Alexandria Police Foundation stepped in and waged a furious fundraising campaign. In just months, $400,000 was raised. The architect and builder of the police headquarters building provided their services for free. Obranovich stepped in to help coordinate everything.

"That's when I knew it ws going to be done," said Hill-Obranovich. "We were going to do it!"

Judy Birney is another strong supporter of the project. Her dad, Conrad Birney, was a youth detective. As his commemorative plaque explains, he was killed responding to a bank robbbery in 1972. Judy was just 12.

"He wasn't just a badge and a gun. He really cared greatly about the youth of Alexandria and he loved his job very much," said Birney.

Birney later followed in her father's footsteps, serving as an an Alexandria officer herself until 1999.

"To me it was like coming home. Even as a little girl I always wanted to be a police officer," said Birney.

Now the memorial gives Birney and Hill-Obranovich reason to keep coming back to police headquarters.

"It will be the final place where they can be remembered forever," said Birney. "I will always cherish it and come here as many times as I can."

For Ginny, her promise is delivered.

"I want people to know these officers loved their job, did their job and they need to be remembered forever," she said.

And when the Alexandria police honor guard opens the dedication ceremony, one of its members will share the last name of one of the fallen. Robert Hill was 4 when his dad Charlie was killed. Now he, too, wears the Alexandria police uniform.

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