SALT LAKE CITY — Jessica Orr was three weeks away from her 12th birthday when her father, Uintah County Sheriff's Cpl. Kevin Orr, was killed in the line of duty.

Today, Jessica is 18 and about to graduate from high school.

"It's been a hard process growing up without my dad," she said.

But while standing in front of the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial wall on the west grounds of the Utah State Capitol Thursday, Jessica also had a message for the three young sons of Utah Highway Patrol trooper Aaron Beesley, whose name became the latest added to the memorial.

"Whatever you do throughout your life, your daddy will be here with you," she said. "All you have to do is say, 'I need my daddy.' My daddy has always been there for me."

On Thursday, police chiefs and law enforcers from across the state, Gov. Gary Herbert and other state dignitaries joined families of officers who paid the ultimate price in years past to honor Beesley at the annual memorial service.

A 13-year UHP veteran, Beesley was killed June 30, 2012, while rescuing two stranded teenage hikers from Mt. Olympus. He lost his footing and fell approximately 60 feet.

But it was the life of Beesley and other fallen officers that many chose to remember Thursday rather than their deaths.

Laretta Beesley, Aaron's mother, said when she was preparing her comments for Thursday's service, she wanted to find out about the lives of the men and women who previously died in the line of duty, but could only find information on the Internet about their deaths.

"Why do we have to die before we realize how good they really are?" she asked. "It's real easy to look back. We need to look around and see the positives now."

Laretta Beesley talked about some of the moments of the lives of Ogden police officer Jared Francom, Bureau of Indian Affairs officer Josh Yazzie, Kane County sheriff's deputy Brian Harris, Sevier County Sheriff's Sgt. Franco Aguilar, Millard County sheriff's deputy Josie Greathouse Fox, and others.

"(Aaron Beesley) will be remembered from stories passed down from generation to generation and books about him," she said.

And while she has feared that as time goes on, all the public will remember about her son is his name, she said the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial will be standing forever.

"(It's) healing to me he is still being remembered," she said.

Since her son's death, Beesley said she has felt deeper for families that receive the tragic news that their loved one has been killed, as well as for the officers who have to deliver the news.

Herbert, who returned recently from a trip to Israel, said Utahns shouldn't take for granted that they wake up each morning and just expect everything will be peaceful.

"We seldom think about what would happen if we didn't have (law enforcers)," he said. "Law enforcement goes out everyday looking to serve. I don't know if we can say thank you enough for those who step out in front and protect you."

After Beesley's sons, Austin, Derek and Preston, helped place their father's memorial plaque on the wall, bagpipes played "Amazing Grace," followed by a 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps. Beesley's family was then presented with his posthumous Purple Heart award.

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Laretta Beesley said the loss her family feels will be felt for a long time.

"No parent wants to bury a child," she said.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam