WASHINGTON - A Willoughby police officer who died in the line of duty was one of hundreds of fallen officers honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Monday.
"I can't even begin to tell you all the emotions that are going through me here," said Pam Gresko, whose son, Jason Gresko, made the ultimate sacrifice last September. He swerved to miss a drunk driver and slammed into a tree.
As part of National Police Week 2013, thousands of fellow officers and survivors gathered at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial to pay tribute to those who died. The names of 120 officers who were killed in the line of duty in 2012, as well as 201 prior-year fatalities, will be formally dedicated at the memorial during an annual candlelight vigil Monday evening.
"There are way too many on the wall each and every year," said Jeremy Benedict, a friend and colleague of Gresko's at the Cleveland Clinic where the two worked. Benedict added that he now has five friends etched on the wall that spans nearly a block.
Gresko's family said the 32-year-old was supposed to attend National Police Week this year to honor his fellow fallen comrades. Instead, Gresko's family and officers from the Willoughby Police Department and Cleveland Clinic are attending the week-long events to honor and remember him.
"All of the memories of him are done," Pam Gresko said. "We're just making new ones of his death."
"I would never thought that I would ever have to do this," said Sandra Gresko, Jason's wife as she did a rub of his name on the memorial wall.
Gresko's family said he filled their lives with love, laughter and happiness. He was devoted to his job and family and leaves behind a 3-year-old daughter.