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Wishing for no more stars

A home on Brians Lane displayed an unusual Christmas tree this month.

Like last year, the Price family had a tree with hundreds of red and blue stars representing police officers, firefighters and K-9 dogs that lost their lives in the line of duty in 2018. Even after the tree was put up, they continued adding stars for all that died in December, totaling 25 — an average of about one per day across the United States.

Bill Price, a captain in the fire department at Naval Station Norfolk, his wife Cindy and their two sons, Keegan, 9, and Gavin, 7, have shown remarkable dedication to the public safety professions in recent years. Price regularly does 9/11 memorial climbs for the firefighters who lost their lives during their response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. He puts forth many hours and much dedication training for them, all in an effort to remember those firefighters who faced almost certain death and went in anyway to attempt to save lives.

Their dedication to the Fallen Heroes Tree went above and beyond this year. A ceremony was held on Dec. 12 with dozens of first responders, the Newport News Fire Department playing “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes and the reading of names on the tree.

They maintained the tree meticulously. Both boys picked up every single star that fell to December’s cold wind and rain. Throughout the month, when the sad news came of another death, Price wasted no time in getting the name on the tree. Price regularly shared photos of the stars on social media so that families across the nation might see their loved one honored.

The Prices’ dedication to honoring public safety and first responders not just at home but all across the nation is admirable. Price plans to retire this year and move his family to Roanoke, but we look forward to hearing more about the Public Safety Tree, no matter from where it shines. According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, there have been no line-of-duty deaths of human or canine police officers so far this year. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation reports the same good news for firefighters.

We sincerely hope there are no stars to hang on this tree in December 2019.