Participants from afar

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by TRICIA MANNING-SMITH / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on December 8, 2009 at 7:51 PM

TACOMA, Wash. - Many people who couldn't attend the memorials in person found themselves drawn to the coverage.

Today's procession and memorial became part of communities well beyond Lakewood.

Neil Badua took a front row seat in Ballard, in Smitty's barber chair, to watch the memorial today.

"It's really heartbreaking to see. Tragic," said Badua.

Smitty turned on his barber shop's TV at 9 a.m. when the procession began this morning.

He was overwhelmed by the law enforcement turnout.

"I felt really good about them having that much support. I think it says a lot about our community here," said Smitty.

Just up the road at Ballard's Mike's Chili Parlor, regulars warmed up over lunch with the procession rolling in the background.

"It was a real big impact. You feel the sorrow all over," Roofer Tommy Banks remarked.

Lunch crowds all over Western Washington became participants in honoring the officers, while workers kept one eye on the job, another on their TVs.

A patriotic crowd filled Redmond's V.F.W. for lunch. Manager Kit Podgorny caught glimpses of the memorial while serving his customers.

"I saw the four rolling coffins, that really struck me," he said.

While thousands of police officers and firefighters paid their respects person, thousands more were there in spirit while on the job protecting their communities back home.

"It just shows that its one big family and that they all understand it's a dangerous job they do," said Kent Firefighter Rob Carlson.

Even from hundreds of miles away, thousands of people share the heartache. In Arlington, Jim Ayres stopped at Buzz Inn after work to watch the memorial coverage.

"It hurts. It hurts my heart to see this," he said.

He didn't want to be alone with his thoughts, wondering what happens next?

"You hear people ask to say 'thanks' and that sort of thing (to police officers). But that's not enough. There's got to be more," he said.

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