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TWINSBURG -- Loved ones and hometown heroes, those peace officers lost in the line of duty from across the country, will once again be honored and commemorated through hand-made ornaments crafted by the community at Twinsburg Public Library.
At any time during the library's hours of operation, citizens and families are invited to make an ornament with the name of a police officer, firefighter or police dog who died in 2012. The names are gathered through the Ohio Officer Down Memorial Page.
Ornaments will be displayed on a 12 feet-tall tree in the library's children's room .
Twinsburg Public Library youth services manager Katie Johnson, who has been overseeing the ornament program for several years, said the crafting began Dec. 3 and will continue until Christmas or enough ornaments have been made to cover the tree. Kindergarten students from Wilcox Primary School and other classes from Dodge Elementary have contributed to the project.
"We [honor] police officers and firefighters from around the country," Johnson said. "This year is the first year we're actually including the K-9 dogs that died too. We have an ornament packaging day after Christmas, where we give [people] envelopes and mail [the ornaments] out to all the families."
Johnson said the ornament project was inspired by the generosity shown to Tallmadge resident Holly Miktarian after her husband, Officer Joshua Miktarian of the Twinsburg Police Department, was killed on duty in July 2008. Miktarian received an ornament honoring her husband during Christmas 2009.
"Their whole point was to say that they hadn't forgotten my officer who died in the line of duty," Miktarian said. "They didn't forget him over the holiday season and I just thought that was great."
"I think she got (an ornament) the year after Josh died ... and it was so touching for her that she wanted to do something every year for other families," Johnson said of Miktarian. "Twinsburg tends to be a really close-knit community. People will never forget what happened ... I think that by bringing children in and explaining a little bit about what's happening, I think it's pretty meaningful to people. So they always seem to really embrace the project."
Miktarian has helped Johnson coordinate the project since its inception and said both the library staff and the community have been very supportive of her.
The design of the ornaments changes each year, with the 2012 configuration a felt peace dove. Miktarian said this year's theme was chosen to promote peace across the country.
"Every year, I want the amount of ornaments to be less and less," Miktarian said Dec. 7. "I've always seen the symbol of a peace dove as something that could help promote less violence and death. Even if we don't ever reach that goal of never having to make any ornaments, maybe the families will feel like I felt.
"It was just so kind for someone to do that and to remember my husband during the holiday season and I want other families to know that we remember their loved ones as well."