LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

SEATTLE -- He spent 46 years as cop, all of them on the streets of Seattle.

Everything starts on the streets, said Officer Mike Severance. That's where it all begins.

Those streets led Severance to a cemetery where a sorrowful past was laid to rest Thursday.

The journey started at one of the darkest hours in Washington's law enforcement history. Seattle Police Officer Tim Brenton and four Lakewood police officers were all killed in the line of duty less than four weeks apart in 2009. Soon after, Severance started a campaign to mark the spots where all 58 SPD officers died on the job. In doing so, he discovered some met a great indignity.

It was a shock, he said. How could a Seattle police officer be killed in the line of duty and be buried in an unmarked grave for more than 100 years?

Severance determined three fallen officers were buried in unmarked graves in Seattle. It was a wrong the veteran cop said he had to right.

They were ordinary people who chose to do an extraordinary job. They shouldn't be forgotten.

On Thursday, the last of the three was honored at Seattle's Lake View Cemetery. Officer Thomas Roberts was shot to death on Easter Sunday in 1898. He left behind a pregnant wife. Roberts was simply walking the beat, just as Severance has done for the better part of the past half century.

Severance is retiring at the end of August and is quick to say this story is not about him, but all those who never got the chance to retire.

You hear the phrase 'gone but not forgotten.' That should mean something, he said. I would think that every police officer killed in the line of duty deserves a tombstone.

Severance's campaign to post signs honoring fallen police officers around the city has met resistance from the Seattle City Council. He says he plans to keep fighting for it during his retirement.

Read or Share this story: http://www.nwcn.com/story/news/local/washington/2014/08/18/14025616/