It’s been more than a year since St. Paul police officer Joshua Lynaugh died in the line of duty. Soon, he will take his place among the country’s fallen officers when his name is dedicated on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
For Lynaugh’s father, Tim, the trip to Washington for the ceremony during National Police Week (May 11-17) will be a source of pride but also sorrow.
“It’s an amazing honor. However, I would argue that anybody that had their child’s name or their spouse’s name or significant other’s name or partner’s name added to that wall … there’s a great deal of heartbreak and loss that goes with that as well,” said the elder Lynaugh, a retired St. Paul police sergeant.
Josh Lynaugh, 30, died Feb. 16, 2013, due to complications from a heart attack he suffered after a foot chase.
With the help of a fundraising campaign, around 20 members of the Lynaugh family along with 50 police officers, most from St. Paul, will travel to the nation’s capital and attend a candlelight vigil when the names of 286 fallen officers are formally dedicated. The names of four other Minnesota officers are also being added this year.
It won’t be the first time that Tim Lynaugh has visited the memorial. During a Washington tour with his father in 2000, he stopped to pay respects to fallen St. Paul comrades Tim Jones and Ron Ryan, who were killed while on duty in 1994.
Lynaugh says that as he and his family try to cope with their loss, they’ve been appreciative of the officers who choose to serve and of the support from others.
Joshua Lynaugh had an infectious and positive attitude about life, said his father, adding that he remembers how his son would sometimes call early in the morning to talk about an exciting car chase or arrest the night before. Now, Joshua would probably tell his parents to stop grieving and live their lives. But that, Tim Lynaugh admitted, is difficult.
“That’s the hard part I think about grieving,” he said. “Sometimes our head can tell us something, but so often our head is disconnected from our heart.”