This week is Police Week, in honor of the men and women of law enforcement who have laid down their lives in service to their communities.
If you're one of those cop haters that seem to infest the internet, go read something else for a while.
On second thought, stick around. Maybe you'll learn something.
In 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed May 15th as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15th falls, as National Police Week. Established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962, National Police Week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.
Traveling down to the LE Memorial Service on Monday night with my houseguests, I was honored to once again spend a few hours in the company of thousands of the finest men and women from around the globe, the law enforcement officers who came to pay tribute to those fallen in the line of duty. And the did indeed come from all over the world. Here we have two officers from India and a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer.
The gathering took place, as it does every year, at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, DC. ON this memorial are the names of over 19,000 law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. Every year, the list grows longer; 321 names were added this year, including 120 who were killed in 2012.
My pictures won't do the memorial justice as it was so crowded just prior to the official ceremony, but I'm going to try to convey just a bit of what we all saw there, including a few of the personal memorial displays set up for specific officers by their family members and peers.
There were thousands of letters, pictures and mementos left, reminding us that each of these heroes was a very real person who left behind loved ones. One such display was that of Atlantic City, NJ Patrolman Thomas J. McMeekin jr..
Just below this, was a small memorial to M.I.T. Officer Sean Collier, murdered by the Boston Marathon bombers.
Officer John P. Kalaman, Centerville, Ohio. He was 21 years old when he and two firefighters were struck by a car while working to rescue people on a crash scene.
Police Officer Luke T. Hoffman, Montgomery County Police Department, Maryland. Struck by a car while pursuing a fleeing drunk driver on foot.
Deputy William Giacomo, Nicholas County Sheriff's Department, WV. Shot by a suspect that he'd just arrested for drunk driving.
Pittsburg, PA Officer Larry Elwood Lasater, Jr.. This USMC veteran was shot and killed while trying to apprehend two robbery suspects. His son was born two and a half months after his funeral.
Deputy Sheriff Kyle Pagerly, Berks County, PA. Deputy Pagerly was a K9 handler attempting to serve an arrest warrant on a fugitive when the suspect shot him with an AK-47. WHen he was hit, his K9 partner, Jynx". tried to drag him back out of the line of fire. Deputy Pagerly had been on the job five years and was a prior US Army veteran and current volunteer firefighter.
Investigator Robert Van Hall Jr., New York State Police. He was a Greet Beret in Vietnam, but he was murdered in New York by two drug traffickers with a sawed-off shotgun.
There were so many more. I couldn't even get near most of them. But they were not forgotten on this day, that's for sure. Police agencies from around the world were represented.
There were horses.
There were motorcycles.
And yes, those are short-barreled M-16 machine guns on those bikes. It's a dangerous job, and our best and most dedicated need the best tools available because they do rush into trouble as everyone else is rushing out.
And there were cops. Thousands of cops. And the vast majority of them came here at their own expense, because this is who they are and this is what they do.
These three troopers came from Alaska.
Hey--I know that one in the middle!
There were speakers, an Honor Guard, and a candle light vigil, with thousands of candles visible for a block in every direction.
I have seldom been in the company of so many great Americans at one time. Probably not since I was last down in DC for Police Week, 2009.
I've got to start making this a yearly pilgrimage. And if you are one of those people who thinks that having a concealed weapons permit makes you the equal of a police officer, you might want to show up as well. Just make sure that you keep your hat in your hand, because you will be in the presence of some of America's truly heroic men and women who have earned the respect of a great nation.