Grief over fallen comrades leads Uniontown officer to compose ballad
After returning from the funeral of fallen Lower Burrell K-9 Officer Derek Kotecki, Mike Garrow picked up his guitar and began to write a song.
“The funeral was exceptionally emotional,” said Garrow, a Uniontown K-9 officer. “I knew I had to say something.”
However, Garrow said a middle portion of the song — titled “Another Name Added to the Wall” — was needed.
The inspiration to complete the song came after attending the funeral of East Washington police Officer John David Dryer, who was fatally shot Dec. 18, 2011, during a traffic stop on Interstate 70 in South Strabane Township.
Kotecki died Oct. 12, shot to death while trying to arrest a man wanted for attempted homicide.
The song might have remained anonymous, except for the efforts of Larry Celaschi, co-owner of Blue Light Recording Studio and Productions in Charleroi.
“We pestered him to come down,” Celaschi said. “He has a ton of original music. I told him, ‘Mike, it's time to leave your legacy for your kids.'”
Garrow entered the studio April 23 to record his tribute to police officers killed in the line of duty. A video featuring still photographs of fallen officers was shot soon after.
“We took him from never doing anything in the music industry to making a video that's now plastered all over YouTube,” Celaschi said.
The song title is a reference to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., which contains than 19,000 names. Today is National Peace Officers Memorial Day, when police officers killed in the line of duty are honored.
“When I attended the funeral for Officer Kotecki, I thought, there's another name added to the wall,” Garrow said.
Garrow had the music and lyrics written when he entered the studio. The 20-year veteran K-9 officer admitted to being nervous as he stepped to the microphone, but soon loosened up and enjoyed the process.
The officer had planned an acoustic guitar accompaniment.
However, Carlton “C-note” Stern, the studio co-owner, provided a strong arrangement, piano and bass. Celaschi added percussion.
The song soon will be available for purchase.
It might not be Garrow's last song. Among his growing collection of original music are two pieces dedicated to his peers.
“Just Like It Was Meant To Be,” is dedicated to a K-9 police dog that died. The song “All It Ever Does Is Rain,” contains lyrics that trace his career: 10 years with the Uniontown Police Department and stints with California and Washington police.
For now, Garrow said he hopes “Another Name Added to the Wall,” hits home for police and the public.
“I hope this brings some attention to law enforcement officers who pay the ultimate price,” Garrow said.
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.