GLOUCESTER COUNTY, Va. -- The family of a slain Virginia state trooper is keeping his memory alive and thanking law enforcement across the country this holiday season.
Michelle Dermyer, Trooper Chad Dermyer's widow, posted on Facebook that a billboard thanking officers for their service will be displayed next Friday.
"As many of you may remember, my father-in-law had these billboards done last year. We were lucky enough to get them in a couple of states. Well, this year my father-in-law had a "Go big or go home idea" and was able to contact the CEO of Lamar advertising Sean Reilly and he has agreed to make these billboards go NATIONWIDE on Friday December 22," Michelle Dermyer wrote. "It is so important to our family that Chad's legacy continues, that he is NEVER forgotten and that law enforcement officers across this great nation knows that we appreciate everything they do for us."
The billboard reads:
The Dermyer family would like to thank you for what you do every day. Merry Christmas. In loving memory of Virginia State Trooper Chad Phillip Dermyer, End of Watch, March 31, 2016.
The idea started last year when John Dermyer wanted to express his gratitude to law enforcement in his native Kansas City.
When he contacted Lamar Outdoor Advertising to ask about buying a billboard message, the company offered four digital billboards for free.
Company officials also decided to extend the message to Virginia where John Dermyer’s son Chad lived and worked.
The company also honored Dermyer on its digital billboards across the state after the tragedy.
“We’re honoring a hero on our digital billboards across Virginia,” Lamar Advertising posted on Facebook. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of fallen Virginia State Trooper Chad Dermyer and the Virginia State Police.”
This year's message will appear on billboards across the country on Friday, Dec. 22.
Remembering Trooper Dermyer
Trooper Dermyer was shot and killed in the line of duty on March 31, 2016, by a man he approached during a training exercise at the Richmond Greyhound bus station.
Dermyer was at the bus station on Boulevard with 16 troopers, special agents and supervisors as part of a specialized training on criminal interdiction practices, a method of proactive policing where officers engage citizens and hone skills to detect criminal activity.
"I think I went 43 years without shedding a tear and I haven't went a day without shedding a tear in the last 13 months," John Dermyer said in May following the 2017 Virginia State Police Law Enforcement Memorial Service. "The loss of a child is devastating.
Dermyer was one of nine troopers recognized during that ceremony for giving the ultimate sacrifice in their service.
A painting of Dermyer was unveiled at the Colonel C.W. Woodson Jr. Memorial Gallery, which includes 61 portraits of men and women in who died in the line-of-duty in Virginia, at the Virginia State Police Academy in May.
Dermyer's family sat in the front row of the service surrounded by members of his police unit.
"[Chad's wife] Michelle is strong. The grandkids, I'm not so sure they're strong as she is," John Dermyer described. "I hate to see them grow up without their father figure and that's a difficult thing to go through."
"I have one goal in life and that is I don't want to see another family from any police department in the United States have to go through the same things are family has to gone through," John Dermyer said.