Video by George7171
With glowing candles held high and a sharp blue laser light overhead, an estimated 20,000 people packed the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Tuesday night for the 20th Annual Candlelight Vigil in honor of America’s fallen law enforcement officers. It was a ceremony that once again brought veteran police officers to tears, awed the hundreds of survivors who sat front and center, and inspired and moved even those who have attended several past vigils.
Approximately half of the two-hour ceremony involved the reading aloud of all 358 names that were added this year to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. They include 181 officers who died in 2007 and another 177 who died in yesteryear, but whose sacrifice had until now slipped through the cracks of history.
As is tradition, the U.S. Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, read the first group of names – 10 law enforcement professionals who made the ultimate sacrifice from the state of Alabama. He was followed by dozens of names readers that included NLEOMF board members, police chiefs, sheriffs, federal law enforcement leaders and survivors from across the country. Along with Jean Hill, national president of Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS), General Mukasey also lit the Memorial Candle, from which the lighting of the thousands of candles in the crowd began.
In his keynote remarks, the Attorney General remarked on the solemn, yet hopeful purpose of the event. “These walls are about sacrifice, and courage, and grief. But these walls are also about hope and love. They are here as evidence in stone that we will never forget these men and women,” he said.
NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig Floyd noted that while the 358 officers honored at the vigil were different in many respects – agency, age, rank and the like – they all shared a common bond of courage and commitment to serve. And now, he said, “they share a common place of honor here at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.”
The ceremony ended at almost precisely 10 pm to hugs, handshakes, still some tears but also smiles, and several television news trucks setting up for live shots on the late local news.