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Columns : The Federal Voice

Honoring Fallen Heroes During Police Week

National Police Week events memorialize officers killed in the line of duty, inspire officers still serving, and remind the public of the sacrifices officers make to keep the peace.

June 08, 2016  |  by Jon Adler

Last month thousands of officers, survivors of fallen officers, and police supporters confirmed that Blue Lives Matter as they converged on Washington, DC, to honor the ultimate sacrifice of our fallen heroes.

Prior to the launching of the annual National Police Week events, the names of 252 fallen heroes were engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Among the 252 honored were 123 who made the ultimate sacrifice in 2015. During Police Week, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), along with other national law enforcement organizations, honored the fallen by hosting special events.

Thursday May 12. The riders of the Police Unity Tour arrived at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. This group of 2,300 active and retired law enforcement officers rode their bicycles hundreds of miles to pay tribute to the memory of the fallen. Their motto is "We ride for those who died," and each rider wears a bracelet inscribed with the name of a fallen hero. Led by Unity Tour founder Pat Montuore and President Harry Phillips, the riders arrived in formation, displaying a powerful stream of blue. Unfortunately, one Unity Tour rider, Lt. Joseph Franklin, was fatally injured during the ride.

In honor of Lt. Franklin and all fallen officers, Montuore and Phillips have initiated the "Uphold The Line" campaign (www.upholdtheline.com). With the onset of construction to build the first National Law Enforcement Museum, Montuore and Phillips have also launched the Build Our House program. Their idea is for active and retired law enforcement officers to make a tax-deductible biweekly $4 donation, or a one-time payment of $130.  

During the evening of May 12, NLEOMF hosted its 25th -year gala event at the Ronald Reagan Building. The gala honored the Fund's original directors, Mike Muth of the National Troopers Coalition, Suzie Sawyer of Concerns of Police Survivors, and Ralph Purdy of the United Federation of Police Officers for their decades of honorable service. Additionally, NLEOMF presented retired Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey with a Lifetime Achievement Award and honored the television show, "Blue Bloods," for its positive portrayal of law enforcement.

Friday May 13. Due to the Museum construction, which is on the perimeter of the Memorial grounds, the annual Candlelight Vigil was held on the National Mall. More than 20,000 attended to pay their respects to the fallen, and the ceremony was inspiring to all. The events opened with a series of musical tributes. In particular, Massachusetts State Police Trooper Kathryn Downey's powerful rendition of "Never Alone" was riveting.

The performances were followed by speeches from dignitaries and top law enforcement officials, including Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Loretta Lynch. At the conclusion of the speeches, the names of the 252 fallen officers engraved on the walls this year were solemnly intoned, as more than 20,000 candles were lit in the crowd. Those in attendance were once again blessed by a bagpipe solo of "Going Home" performed by Officer Steve Butterbrodt, and the ceremony concluded with "Taps" performed by Amtrak Police Inspector Kathleen A. Harasek, followed by the retrieval of the colors by the U.S. Park Police Honor Guard.

Saturday May 14. Concerns of Police Survivors hosted its annual conference and support group events. C.O.P.S. is a phenomenal organization that supports the families of fallen officers. It's important that the surviving family members know they're not alone, and C.O.P.S. provides counseling and great events.

That evening the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) hosted its annual "Top Cops" awards ceremony. Each year, NAPO honors the nation's top law enforcement officers for the heroic performance of their duties during the Top Cops awards program.

Sunday May 15. In honor of National Peace Officers Memorial Day, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and the Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary hosted the annual memorial service and wreath-laying ceremony at the West Front of the Capitol building. A large crowd attended and participated in this solemn event.

National Police Week once again demonstrated that the Thin Blue Line of law enforcement is indomitable and unbreakable. May all our fallen law enforcement heroes rest in eternal honor and loving peace.

Jon Adler is the president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Foundation.


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