In a ceremony at once tear-filled and tired, Philadelphia Police Officer John Pawlowski was laid to rest in a wind-whipped corner of Bensalem's Resurrection Cemetery, the fourth police officer killed in the line of duty to be buried there since September.
Pawlowski's grave is not far from that of Philadelphia Officer Patrick McDonald, shot to death in September. Two months later, Philadelphia Sgt. Timothy Simpson, killed by a fugitive in a traffic accident, was interred there. And earlier this month, Middletown Township Police Officer Christopher Jones, killed when his cruiser was struck during a routine traffic stop, was laid to rest at the opposite end of the cemetery.
Pawlowski was buried within sight of his mother's grave. Asked whether the officer's site is a family plot, one supervisor answered grimly. "It is now," he said.
At the request of Pawlowski's family, graveside services did not commence until every vehicle in the long procession of limousines, police cars, buses and motorcycle escorts was parked and emptied. Family members gathered close to the bronze-colored vault, flanked by bagpipers, rows of dress-uniformed officers from a range of departments, and a long, color-guard line, flags snapping in the sharp, cold wind.
The Lord's Prayer was said, Taps was bugled, bagpipes sounded Amazing Grace, and the flag that had draped the casket was folded and given to Pawlowski's pregnant widow Kim.
Six police helicopters passed overhead, one veering sharply in a missing-man formation. It seemed the only variation in the dignified, but now overly familiar ritual, was in the words of the final police radio call for Pawlowski as it crackled over the loudspeakers.
"Radio, please take 359, Police Officer John Pawlowski, badge number 5649, off the air for the final time," a voice intoned. "As members of the 35th District, and the entire police family, we thank you for a job well done."
Earlier this afternoon, the funeral procession left from the the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Center City following a funeral mass during which an overflow of mourners prayed for the officer and his family.
Before the funeral mass began, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey praised Pawlowski as an officer who believed in his work and requested a transfer from Center City to North Philadelphia.
Speaking to Pawlowski's widow Kim, who is five months pregnant, Ramsey said something she had said to him "haunted me all week. 'My son will never get to know his father.' I couldn't get that out of my mind."
Mayor Nutter read from a letter of condolence from President Obama to Kim Pawlowski and the officer's sister Lauren recalled how her brother, who was called J.P., changed after meeting his wife.
He went, she said, from being "J.P. Party" to "J.P. Family."
In his homily, Cardinal Justin Rigali offered prayers for the officer, his family, the city and even the perpetrators of violence who have "defiled and violated their own human dignity."
Pawlowski, 25, was shot and killed a week ago today while responding to a street robbery in Olney. He was the seventh Philadelphia police officer to die in the line of duty in less than three years.
According to officers who waited in heated tents outside the Basilica, Palowski held the ultra-sound photo of his unborn son in his hand.
"It is the only time he will get to hold his baby," said Officer Charles Mellon of the 25th District who was among those who saluted the casket as it arrived at the cathedral in the pre-dawn darkness.
Before the mass, citizens and police officers from around the region filed into the cathedral to pay final respects to Pawlowski.
This morning's painfully perfected rituals of final farewell began at 5 a.m. at Police Headquarters, where Palowski's casket was tranferred from a hearse to a horse-drawn caisson.
Accompanied by a riderless horse, a pipe and drum corps and an honor guard led by Mayor Nutter and Commissioner Ramsey, the caisson processed in biting cold up Arch Street to the Parkway to the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peters and Paul.
A steady stream of mourners, mostly police officers, filed into the church for a viewing and the line soon extended out the door.
Outside, a Jumbotron flashed photographs of Pawlowski throughout his life while speakers blasted contemporary music he probably liked.
Center City echoed with sirens as officers from other departments arrived for the viewing and funeral.
Nutter, attending his fifth funeral for a police officer since taking office, said, "We're talking about a city and a region in pain," he said. "There's just no other way to describe it."
"We have to be strong and we have to honor his service and all the others by doing our jobs and never giving up. Never taking a step back."
"This is not something we should ever get use to," the mayor said. "Everyone of these deaths is different. And it really just hurts."
Life-long Philly resident Lynn Cox stood outside the Basilica to watch the funeral mass on the Jumbotron.