By DEVIN HEILMAN
Hagadone News Network
COEUR d’ALENE — It definitely wasn't smoke that brought tears to everyone's eyes Thursday evening.
It was the memory of a much-loved police sergeant, whose widow held their sleepy daughter in one arm and a shovel in the other, fighting her own tears as she dug into the dirt where a memorial honoring her fallen husband will soon be built.
"We just want to thank the city of Coeur d'Alene," said Sgt. Greg Moore's father, Fred Moore. "Thank you very much."
More than 70 community members, law enforcement officials and loved ones of the Moore family attended the ceremony to witness Moore's wife Lindy, their family and city leaders break ground on the site.
"This memorial means a lot to our community, and what it means is we are committed to our law enforcement," said Coeur d'Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer. "More importantly, we are committed that we as a community will always remember, and we will never forget, the sacrifice that Sgt. Greg Moore made for our community. This is going to be a lasting tribute to him."
Widmyer said it's something he hopes Moore's children and their children will be able to visit, as well as community members, so "we all can remember Greg Moore for many, many years to come and what he did for our community."
Coeur d'Alene Police Sgt. Moore was shot and killed in the line of duty in May of 2015. It sent shockwaves through the community that are still being felt.
"I had a hard time keeping my composure for a simple groundbreaking," said Jocelyn Babcock, of Post Falls, who attended the ceremony. "Everybody felt the loss. Even if you didn’t know him, it left that void."
The K27 Memorial will feature three waterfalls — honor, respect and remember — with pools and areas where visitors will have quiet space to reflect. Crews will be at the site Monday to begin construction.
"It symbolizes that community mentality that we still have, that small-town feel," Babcock said. "To me, it feels like healing the community."
The memorial will have several phases as it progresses. Phase 1 is expected to be completed by Thanksgiving and to be open in the spring. The project is being led by the city and the nonprofit Panhandle Parks Foundation.
“The Panhandle Parks Foundation is so excited to finally see this come to fruition," said board secretary Tinka Schaffer. "It’s been two years of hard work and lots of meetings and hard decisions and lots of fundraising, so we’re very excited that it’s going to begin."
Schaffer said the groundbreaking "was very heartwarming. I know we were all a little choked up."
She said the fundraising for the memorial is far from over, and anyone who would like to contribute can contact the foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We want (Moore's family) to know that we will never forget," she said. "Like the mayor said, we will never, ever forget Sgt. Greg and his family and what he has done for our community to keep us all safe. We’re building this in his honor as well as all the other law enforcement that get up every day and go out into the sometimes-scary world to help protect us."