Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts

The sky over the Fairfax County Public Safety Center was bright blue with a few puffy white clouds for the Fairfax County Police Fallen Officers Memorial Service on Monday. The American flag swayed gently in the breeze as Sheriff’s Deputy Rob Deer played a traditional dirge of “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipe. Elected officials and public safety officers looked on as family members of the fallen officers placed red roses at the base of a simple black marble cenotaph in the memorial rose garden.

The memorial originally was dedicated in 2002 to commemorate three fallen officers – Officer Karen Bassford, killed in an automobile crash while responding to a burglary call in1977; Special Officer Hendrick “Sandy” Gideonse, killed in a crash on Interstate 95 while working in1998; and Captain Tommy Bernal, killed in 2001 when a vehicle struck his motorcycle during a training exercise. Officer Bassford’s parents, Special Officer Gideonse’s sons, and Captain Bernal’s widow attended this week’s ceremony, as they did two years ago on May 8, when the only names engraved on the cenotaph were those of their loved ones.

May 8, 2006, also was a beautiful spring day for the quiet memorial observance. Little did we know at the time that, within hours, the names of two more officers, sadly, would qualify for remembrance on the cenotaph. That afternoon, a mentally ill teen attacked the Sully District Police Station, killing Detective Vicky Armel and mortally wounding Master Police Officer Michael Garbarino in a shootout in the parking lot of the station. On Monday, Detective Armel’s husband, mother, and sisters placed roses beneath her name, and MPO Garbarino’s wife and teenage daughters also placed roses in memory of a beloved husband and father who died in the line of duty.

Now there are five names on the memorial. I pray that no more names will need to be added. Police Chief David Rohrer noted that these officers made the ultimate sacrifice in the performance of their duties to the citizens of Fairfax County. “They shall always be remembered and held with honor and esteem by the Fairfax County Police Department,” Chief Rohrer said. The community shares that feeling, too.

The World Children’s Choir (WCC), a cross-cultural voice for children worldwide, performs locally at many community events, and seeks new members age four through eighteen (girls and boys with unchanged voices). Most recently, WCC members performed at the Culmore Awareness Day at Bailey’s Park, and the Children’s Day Celebration at Hidden Oaks Nature Center. WCC has three performing ensembles for children and teens. The WCC repertoire includes singing, choreography, West African drumming, and dancing. Auditions are held throughout the concert season. Call 703/883-0920 or log onto


for more information about auditions and upcoming concerts.