Retired Sgt. Tim Lynaugh lost several friends during his years with the St. Paul Police Department, but nothing could prepare him for the death of his son, officer Josh Lynaugh, whose name will join 31 others in a Wall of Honor in the department's headquarters.
After two years of planning and fundraising, the St. Paul Police Historical Society has erected a Wall of Honor to memorialize the fallen St. Paul officers. The wall will be displayed inside the lobby of the department's main headquarters at 367 Grove St.
The wall will be unveiled during a dedication ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
Tim Lynaugh had known about the Wall of Honor project for quite some time.
"But I never knew it would come to a day where my son would be on it," he said.
For many of the patrol officers who are too new to the department to have been around when some of the officers had been killed, the wall will serve as a daily reminder of what could happen while out on assignment and the ultimate sacrifice, Lynaugh said.
"This is a huge deal not only for our family, Josh's family, but for the entire Police Department," he said.
During its nearly 160-year history, the department has lost 32 officers in the line of duty.
Before the wall, people who wanted to learn about the fallen officers had to be escorted upstairs to the Historical Society's wing where plaques with the officers' names were kept. The lobby exhibit will be much more accessible, said retired officer Timothy Bradley, who is overseeing the project.
"If we're never supposed to forget, then put it where people can see it," Bradley said. "It doesn't make sense to have things tucked away."
Planning for the wall began in 2011 after an officer purchased wooden panel relief carvings from the widow of Clifford E. Letty, who also made a 12-foot relief panel that is in the headquarters. It took many hours and more than $40,000 in donations from officers and their families, businesses and other individuals for the wall to become a reality.
The wall is comprised of bronze plaques for each officer. They will be flanked by Letty's carvings. A wall-mounted lectern with an iPad will provide the history of each officer.
"When people come into our house … we want them to know what we are about," Bradley said. "What better way of doing that then by saying these are 32 St. Paul police officers that gave the ultimate sacrifice."
The St. Paul Police Historical Society is still looking for donations, which can be sent to the St. Paul Police Historical Society, 313 Selby Av., St. Paul, MN, 55102. Funds are also being collected to help send officers to Washington next year when Josh Lynaugh's name will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. To donate to that cause, search for "Saint Paul to the Wall" on Facebook.