A Memorial to Fallen Officers Will Stand Tall at Stowe
It was just about this time a year ago when Carlos Puente-Morales and Susan Farrell graduated from the academy and became officers with the Des Moines Police Department. They were two members of a class of 18 selected from a field of more than 500 applicants and had completed a year and a half of training. Less than six months later they were killed in the line of duty in a crash on Interstate 80.
The tragedy rippled through the entire greater Des Moines community but it hit especially close to home at Stowe Elementary School where Carlos’s son, Noah, and daughter, Sofia, are students and Susan’s cousin, Lora Reins, teaches.
Within a month last spring the students and staff raised about $700 for a memorial to the fallen officers and Friday morning it came alive with the planting of two red oak trees in the school’s front yard.
There wasn’t a lot of talk involved in the moving ceremony. Grade by grade, classes marched past in silent salute before going back inside to write tributes on blue slips of paper that will be hung on the trees later.
Noah’s in first grade, Sofia’s in third. Their classes and Reins’ 2nd graders stayed behind to shovel the sturdy trees into place with the help of the many fellow officers that were also on hand and Batman, on assignment from the Iowa League of Heroes.
Principal Jennifer Williams told the assembled, including Susan’s mother; Peggy, husband; Jesse, daughter; Ryleigh, her brother and sister; Chris and Cassie, and Noah and Sofia’s mother; Carolina, that “This will be a place where Carlos and Susan will put down roots and watch over us…As you pass the shovels around think of them at peace.”
Then everyone pitched in to fill two big holes on a brisk, blue-skied day. Right behind them, a flag waved from the top of a pole.