Some years ago we used to attend a small bible study group held at our friends’ house, Rita and Slava Stasyuk. This one time, after we were done with the class, their teenage son, Mark, invited me into his room to show me how he plays his electric guitar. I was watching this kid as he was slamming the strings and thought to myself, “this boy will make it big, whatever it is he chooses to do with his life.”

Today, years later, I came to say goodbye to the young man Mark has become as we joined his memorial service along with over 4,000 members of Russian and American communities and hundreds of uniformed officers.

Mark chose to dedicate his life to protecting ours as a police officer. Last week the terrifying news shook the country, Mark has fallen in the line of duty.

Today that young kid that I once knew became a hero. Today he showed us all what his uniform stands for: honor, bravery, and our safety at any cost. His brave heart inspired hundreds of law enforcement personnel, lined up at his memorial service, to stand strong.

Mark might be gone, but never forgotten. We pay tribute to this brave heart, we take pride in such an honorable member of the Slavic American community, and we send our prayers to his family, believing that once they will meet him again!

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