Every day, law enforcement officers leave their homes knowing full well they may be leaving for the last time. The multitude of their line of work is a reality their families face daily.

This is why law enforcement families forgive fast, love hard and cherish the time spent with their loved ones, careful not to take a single moment for granted.

On Friday, Sept. 8, Wayzata Officer William Mathews left his home and said goodbye to his family for the last time. He was fatally struck by a car as he cleared debris from the road. The car was driven by a woman who was allegedly on the phone and under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident.

At 47 years old Mathews left behind his widow, Shawn, and their 7-year-old son, Wyatt. Mathews’ loved ones experienced the nightmare that is every law enforcement family’s greatest fear.

More than 2,000 officers representing agencies from across Minnesota gathered for Mathews’ funeral on Sept. 14 to honor their brother in blue.

Among this group were several Aitkin County Law Enforcement Benevolent Association members from the Aitkin County Sheriff's Office and Aitkin Police Department. Our local law enforcement traveled to show their support for the fallen officer and his ultimate sacrifice.

What did parents tell their children as they ironed their uniforms and shined their shoes? Did they say they were getting ready for work, or heading to a fellow officer’s funeral?    

Over 2,000 blue roses were handed out by Backing the Blue Line Police Wives of Minnesota during Mathews’ service. A single blue rose lay atop his casket.

Each white rose was hand-painted blue by the wife of a law enforcement officer who shared Shawn’s grief and sorrow. Each wife who volunteered her time prayed the day would never come where she would place a blue rose on her own husband’s casket.  

Each time these women send their husbands off to work, each time they kiss them goodbye, the stark reality is there. They may not wear it on their faces but it is always in the backs of their minds. It isn't a normal life, but they wouldn't have it any other way.  

My deepest condolences to the Mathews’ family, and to Shawn and Wyatt. When you hurt, we all hurt. 

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