Former Grand Forks County Sheriff Bob Rost came up with the idea for Northern Valley Law Enforcement Memorial six years ago.
GRAND FORKS — Their sacrifice is now forever engraved in the community.
Grand Forks is honoring the lives of officers who have been killed in the line of duty across northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.
The Northern Valley Law Enforcement Memorial at Optimist Park features four pillars. One representing northeast North Dakota, northwest Minnesota, federal agents and officers from Manitoba.
It started as a dream six years ago by former Grand Forks County Sheriff Bob Rost.
“Something permanent in stone that people can come to everyday,” he said.
The memorial has names of local officers killed in the line of duty, like East Grand Forks patrolman Kenneth Olson who was shot and killed 45 years ago while responding to a report of a prowler.
Officer Olson and his widow Bonnie Andrys were only married for four months when the 25-year-old was killed.
“It seems a lot more personal and it’s important for the community to be able to see it year round,” Andrys said.
“It is always going to be here, so the people remember that things happen. They paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Rost said.
Rost and Andrys both pointed out the importance of the memorial, a symbol that tragedy can happen in small town North Dakota as well as what has been sacrificed.
During each of the event’s 11 years Andrys carried a rose in honor of her fallen husband. This time it was more emotional seeing his name etched on the wall.
“(S)ometimes you forget their names when you just hear it called, but when you can stand there and read it, it’s a beautiful thing,” she said. “Life can change in a second, and it’s important we keep remembering them.”
Photo: East Grand Forks Police Chief Mike Hedlund escorts the widow of East Grand Forks patrolman Kenneth Olson to the memorial wall to lay a rose. Matt Henson / WDAY News