HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. -- On Monday, a Highlands Ranch post office was named after a Douglas County deputy killed in the line of duty. The post office at the corner of South University Boulevard and South Quebec Street is now officially "The Deputy Sheriff Zackari Spurlock Parrish III Post Office Building." His family, friends and colleagues all attended the ceremony.
Deputy Zackari Parrish was shot in an ambush at a Highlands Ranch apartment on Dec. 31, 2017.
It takes an act of Congress to name a post office after someone.
Former Congressman Mike Coffman first introduced the legislation in May 2018. It passed the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. President Donald Trump signed it into law in December.
"The United States Post Office has got to be proud to have this facility named on behalf of Zack Parrish," Coffman said.
Parrish joins people like Bob Hope, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Walt Disney in having a post office named after him.
“Deputy Parrish was only 29 when he died but he lived with more bravery and courage than many of us will ever be able to show in a lifetime," said Congressman Jason Crow.
Gracie Parrish, Zack’s widow, said this is a bittersweet honor.
“It’s the finality of it, the recognition that this did happen. It wasn't just a terrible dream. It's also so sweet, the community's way of celebrating his life with us and not allowing tragedy or violence to overtake what is truly an amazing man," she said.
For Parrish's friends and colleagues, this ensures he will never be forgotten.
“Very proud, I still think about him every day. This just brings up good memories. What a character he was, always in a great mood, came to work ready to work, enjoyed being a cop," said Douglas County Deputy Jeff Pelle, who was also shot in the incident.
“We want a celebration of Zack's life. We want his name to be read and smiled, and we want people to see that and smile," said Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock.
Parrish was known for his commitment to the community and he will remain a big part of it.
“Beginning today, this will remind all who enter the Highlands Ranch post office of an American hero who paid the ultimate price to save the lives of others," . said Kevin Romero, USPS District Manager.
Gracie was also recognized for the work she is now doing to help law enforcement families. She started a non-profit called the Shelter Foundation.
“You have already sacrificed so much and continue to give back to our other families of first responders. It is a testament to your strength, your character and example Deputy Parrish has left for us all to follow," Crow said.
Gracie has relied on her faith.
“After the loss of Zack, I was looking at the ashes of my life. In those moments of the aftermath, I just really felt there was a void for first responders and their families and how they can transition from work life to home life and how it's not something that you can just clock in and clock out of and not take home with you," she said.
Gracie said the Shelter Foundation offers first responders and their families hope through prayer.
“I just really want them to know the same faith and hope that has upheld me in this time, I know can uphold them in dark moments of first responder world," she said.
Her non-profit is planning family days, marriage retreats and Bible study groups. She doesn't want first responders to survive, she wants them to thrive, together.
“If the loss of Zack in my life means multiple first responders and their families can get to know the Jesus that saved my life, then there is purpose in it. And I can withhold this pain and know that there is beauty coming from these ashes and I see it daily," Gracie said.