Client: Montgomery County
Location: Gaithersburrg, MD, United States
Completion date: 2012
Artwork budget: $450,000
Public Art Agent
Chief Richie Bowers
Ocean City MD
Sited on the edge of a lake, each of the county’s five public safety departments has its own stone, sited in a star shape pattern. One side of each stone contains quotes from that department’s own members describing their work. The other side contains quotes from citizens who have been served by that department. The top of each stone contains the names of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, with a line describing the service they were providing when they perished.
Designing the form of the memorial was a challenging. Each of the five county departments made it clear that they wanted their 'own' memorial space, while the county leaders wished, because these departments so often work together, that it be a singly sited memorial. Hence the united design where each department has its own 'site' each one being part of a greater whole. We were presented with the optimal site for providing a quiet and beautiful memorial for honoring fallen officers. I moved the initial site from near the nearby parking lot out to a point of land near the water, affording more privacy and natural beauty. A long path takes you to the memorial, and your journey is visually and auditorily accented by department and governmental flags which flank the path.
This memorial involved collaborations with a significant number of stakeholders: 5 departments of public safety officers, county managers, local politicians, and the community who has been served by these departments. We conducted extensive interviews of members from each department and from hundreds of citizens who have been served. We worked with an advisory board to edit and create a final list of quotes for the project.
Additional quotes from the work: "We will risk a lot to save a life- we will risk our own lives." Police officer "I didn’t realize the dangers until I saw what they do every day. They are protecting themselves, the inmates and us." County citizen "You can do everything right at a normal traffic stop and still the results can be tragic." police officer "It is not how these officers died that made them heroes, it is how they lived. " Anonymous citizen "We are an officer guarding them, a counselor, a confessor, a protector…" prison guard