A Time to Remember and Celebrate
As our nation lowered its flags to half staff on Thursday, loved ones and colleagues of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty during 2007 gathered at the US Capitol for a special ceremony. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao gave remarks and the names of fallen officers were read aloud during the 27th Annual Peace Officers Memorial Day Service.
And in local communities from Albany, NY, to Lake County, CA, Americans paid tribute to our nation's peace officers -- both living heroes and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Designated by President Kennedy back in 1962, Peace Officers Memorial Day is an important part of honoring the country's fallen heroes.
At the conclusion of the US Capitol service, leaders of the Fraternal Order of Police, the FOP Auxiliary, Concerns of Police Survivors and the NLEOMF brought the wreath from the Capitol to the Memorial to remain under the watch of honor guards from all over the country for the rest of the evening. At midnight, a lone piper played Amazing Grace as flags were returned to full staff signaling the end of Peace Officers Memorial Day.
Many folks spent the afternoon and evening at the Memorial's walls. There were laughter and tears, handshakes and hugs, lots of blue tape, and thousands of name rubbings. There were flowers galore, setting a beautiful backdrop for mementos such as cigars, boots, even a bicycle. Officers from Flagler County, FL, brought a cruiser door to honor a fallen officer. So did members of the Newark, NJ, Police Department; they brought a cruiser door with a specially painted portrait of Sergeant Tommaso Popolizio, who died in March 2007.
But most importantly, there was one element that was critical and common. Sometimes you had to look hard to see it, yet often it was right in your face ... there was peace.
Whether you were walking the walls, sitting at the reflecting pool or at the Memorial's central medallion, you could sense it -- you were "Surrounded by Heroes."