Fallen Des Moines Police Officers Standing Tall in Spirit at Stowe Elementary

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Time hasn`t healed all wounds after the Des Moines Police Department lost two of their own in over six months ago.

"Every single day we might get a little better. We are never going to forget but we learn to live with it differently," said Sergeant Paul Parizek with the Des Moines Police Department.

Des Moines' Stowe Elementary has also been dealing with the emotions after officers Carlos Puente-Morales and Susan Farrell were two of four people killed in a car wreck April 26, along I-80.

"When that accident happened, it really hit home,” said Principal Jennifer Williams.

On city's east side, Principal Williams said the two stood for more than just the badge.

"Carlos Puente was a parent of two students here and Susan Farrell was the cousin of one of our teachers here,” Principal Williams said.

So the students took action.

"On Wednesdays in April we had students wear blue and black and they could bring in donations,” Principal Williams said. “Sophia and Noah the two kids would collect the money."

Together, the students raised $700 for two memorial trees.

"We talked a lot about how our parents look out for us and the community looks out for us and trees can kind of be a symbol of that,” Principal Williams said.

Planted on Friday, two red oaks will forever stand tall and firm never wavering as children pass by them daily.

"They're going to plant roots and grow tall and strong and they'll be here to look out for the kids at Stowe for a long time,” Principal Williams said.

After the dedication, hundreds of students were handed blue sheets of paper and asked how they would resolve conflict peacefully. In the coming weeks, those letters will hang from the trees dedicated to both peace officers.  Principal Williams read one of the responses which said, "I promise to be a good compromise and make the world a better place by making the world less violent so less people get hurt."

At a time when many communities are mending relationships with police departments, Sergeant Parizek believes these trees are proving Des Moines is rooted in love for its officers.

"That`s what makes us realize that the city is going to be fine,” Sgt. Parizek said. “This community, we are going to get through whatever we have to deal with.  Those kids are our future."

Going forward the trees will also serve as memorials for anyone impacted by the tragedy at Stowe Elementary School.

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