Ashlee Hardy didn't want the role she has now. The mother of two has become the woman law enforcement families in Texas lean on after their loved ones are killed in the line of duty.
"You think you're alone, and no one will be there. But so many people show up," Hardy said.
Hardy went to the hospital last summer to be with the families of the Dallas officers who were shot during an ambush in downtown. Little did those grieving families know July 7 was already a tough day for Hardy. It was the anniversary of the day her husband died serving and protecting the people of Plano.
"He loved his job," Hardy said.
Wes Hardy is the only Plano officer who has died in the line of duty. He was killed on July 7, 2007, in a traffic accident while working. Every year Hardy is joined by friends and Plano officers to meet at Wes' grave in Boyd, Texas.
"It means so much to see everyone here ten years later," Hardy said.
The Plano Police Department held memorials for Hardy on Friday, and there is a run named after the nine-year veteran that all cadets have to finish before joining the force. Fellow officer Bill Knight says Hardy was the kind of person who was always in a good a mood. Knight made the nearly two-hour drive to pay his respects Friday morning.
"I know my police family would do the same for me and my family," Knight said.
Hardy left behind twin girls when he passed away. Cora and Caitlyn Hardy are now 13-years-old and helped plan their father's memorial, which included a butterfly release at this grave site.
"He loved, loved, loved being a daddy," Hardy said.
A decade later, the pain is still there, but so are the Hardy's extended law enforcement family. The help the Hardy's have received is one of the biggest reasons Ashlee joined a group called, "The Concerns of Police Survivors," an organization that provides support to families who have lost loved ones.
"You really do go from being a victim to being a survivor," Hardy said.
As the Dallas families mark one year since they lost their loved ones, Hardy says it will get better. She and the law enforcement community aren't going anywhere when it comes to their brothers and sisters need.
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