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Law enforcement wives, widows and loved ones prepare 4,000 roses ahead of memorial service for Burnsville first responders

Law enforcement wives, widows prepare 4,000 roses ahead of Burnsville funeral
Law enforcement wives, widows prepare 4,000 roses ahead of Burnsville funeral 02:19

SAVAGE, Minn. — On Wednesday, thousands will spend the day in the Twin Cities metro, honoring all three first responders during what's been described by officials as an "unprecedented" public memorial.

The Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District canceled classes on Wednesday because buses may have difficulties getting around during the events.

On Tuesday, the nonprofit Backing the Blue Line hosted women at a Savage fire station to prepare 4,000 roses for the memorial. 

MORE: Family of slain officer Matthew Ruge speaks out on eve of funeral

"We take all of the leaves off, all of the thorns off, and then we trim them, put water tubes on them, we paint them, and then we put tags on them," Shanna McArthur explained. 

With each those, the women grow closer. 

"These are all fellow police wives, girlfriends, fiancés, and widows," McArthur said.

The roses will be given outside the service for officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge and firefighter-paramedic Adam Finseth. 

"We added red ones into our collection this time, it's the first time we've done that," she said. 

Backing the Blue Line is a sisterhood built off an understanding that it could have been any of their families losing a loved one. For some, it has been. 

"For my husband it was almost seven years ago," DiAnn Valento said.

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"It's just been over two years for me and we still have some dried roses at home," Maggie Hunt said. 

Once on the receiving end of roses, Valento and Hunt are now giving back, preparing roses for another family. 

"You can't describe how much these roses mean to the families . . . It's just something you can't put into words. Nothing like I've ever experienced before," Valento said.

The experience of preparing flowers together also has power too, the women said. 

"It's healing for us, for sure . . . I would love to never have to hand a blue rose to anybody. I would love to never have to do that again. But the reality is not that. So we are here. For our blue sisters when they need us," McArthur said.

The funeral will take place at Grace Church in Eden Prairie at 11 a.m. Anyone not in attendance can watch the service live on WCCO-TV or CBS News Minnesota. Streaming coverage will begin at 10:30 a.m.

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