National Police Week: Solemnly, we remember our fallen heroes

Nearly 20,000 names have been etched into the Memorial Wall in Judiciary Square in Washington, DC

As I have previously written in this space, 162 police officers were killed in the line of duty in 2010 (up from 117 in 2009), and according to FBI, in preliminary statistics for 2010, 56 cops were murdered in the line of duty last year. This week, we solemnly honor not only those sacrifices, but purposefully take extra time to give thanks for the men and women at the local, state, and federal level who serve on the frontlines, protecting our communities and our country every single day.

From small, intimate ceremonies in communities like Whittier, California late last week, to large-scale gatherings of thousands of police officers and families of fallen law enforcers at events around Washington, DC this weekend, National Police Week 2011 is now under way. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at the 23rd Annual National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Candlelight Vigil to begin the weekend, and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano attended ceremonies at the Capitol Building. Mayors and other elected officials attended (or have stated plans to attend) an array of events in their own cities and towns this week.

During the candlelight vigil, Holder said, in part, “Tonight’s ceremony commemorates another year that has been distinguished by extraordinary acts of valor and selflessness, but also marked — unfortunately — by senseless and unspeakable tragedy. At every level of the Justice Department, ensuring the safety of our law enforcement partners is — and will remain — a top priority. And we will continue working to better understand the challenges — and to mitigate the risks — that they regularly face.”

Holder went on to say, “As we’ve seen too often, these risks are real — and effectively addressing them couldn’t be more urgent. Over the past two years, we’ve seen an alarming increase in the number of line-of-duty officer deaths. In just a few months this year, we’ve lost a shocking number of federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officials. This is appalling. It is unacceptable. It is a stain on our nation. It must, and will, be stopped.”

“National Police Week is a time to reflect on all that we ask of law enforcement, and all that law enforcement provides in return,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano in a prepared written statement late last week. “It is also a time to rededicate ourselves to the cause for which these fallen officers served—the protection of our country, upholding the rule of law, and the pursuit of justice.”

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15th to be National Peace Officers Memorial Day. It just so happens that this year, May 15th fell on a Sunday. I deemed it fitting, then, to lead off our weeklong series of features from PoliceOne columnists with a wonderful item from Joel Shults.

In it, Shults says that the biblical passage, ‘this, do in remembrance of me’ was “not for us to do what we do very well — memorialize our fallen — but to do now those things that honor our brothers and sisters. We must not be like the puzzled Apostles, wondering why they were honoring a living person as though He were already dead. The call is to act today, be purposeful today, to honor one another in the living hours. The time will come for all of us to call together our loved ones at the grave. Look around at the heroes who surround you every day. Alive now. Let us make this one week a call to live every week in honor of those who serve — the living and the dead.”

Today’s feature is from Travis Yates, who writes, “National Police Week is a time that we should remember the sacrifice but it also a time we should be thankful. Thankful to live where sacrifice is remembered and that sacrifice will forever be engraved on a Wall in our Nation’s Capital.”

Absent from this weekend’s ceremonies was the President of the United States — although on Thursday, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden hosted a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden to honor the National Association of Police Organizations Top Cops). The fact that Obama was not in attendance yesterday is doubly troubling because of the fact that the White House last week inexplicably included an ‘artist’ named Common at a dinner event held to honor poets. Common has written sickening pieces of so-called music that glorify convicted cop killers like Joanne Chesimard and Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Every so often, I indulge the ‘artistic’ aspect of my chosen vocation as a writer and editor, creating an occasional haiku for my immediate circle of friends. I have no illusions that my ‘poetry’ will get me an invite to a White House dinner anytime soon, but I thought I might share with you what I wrote late last week. I can say for certain it’s unlike any anti-cop garbage you’ll find in the writings of Lonnie Rashid Lynn (a.k.a. Common).

Our fallen heroes...
Solemnly... we remember.
Police Week begins...

As the week unfolds, we will have hear-rending and inspirational items from PoliceOne Columnists and Contributors including Dan Marcou, Barbara Schwartz, Duane Wolfe, Ed Flosi, and Rob Hall. I encourage every PoliceOne member who wishes to add their voice to weeklong remembrance to simply add your comments beneath any of these features, or email me your own essay.

One such comment might read, “We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” The man who said those words has long since left this world, but George Orwell is as correct today as he was when he first uttered that statement.

Nearly 20,000 names have been etched into the Memorial Wall in Judiciary Square in Washington, DC. The thoughts and prayers of everyone here at PoliceOne go out to the friends, family, and fellow LEOs for each and every one of those names.

About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor at Large for PoliceOne, responsible for providing police training content and expert analysis on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 900 feature articles and tactical tips. Doug is also responsible for planning and recording the PoliceOne Podcast, Policing Matters, as well as being the on-air host for PoliceOne Video interviews. Doug also works closely with the PoliceOne Academy to develop training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.

Doug regularly represents PoliceOne as a public speaker in a variety of forums and is available for media interviews — he has appeared on numerous local and national radio and television news programs, and has been quoted in a host of print publications. 

Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Contact Doug Wyllie

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