They came two-by-two, a seemingly endless line of blue-and-white clad bicyclists, riding into the heart of Washington, DC, Wednesday afternoon. More than 1,000 members of the Police Unity Tour, exhausted yet triumphant, rode into the grounds of the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial to a hero’s welcome. Each had just completed a grueling 300-plus mile journey from starting points in New Jersey and Virginia, all in honor of America’s fallen law enforcement officers.
The Police Unity Tour started 14 years ago as a somewhat rag-tag group of 18 police officers from northern New Jersey who wanted to do something to remember our fallen heroes. Today, the Unity Tour has grown into nothing short of a national movement, with riders from California, Washington state, Texas, Florida, Vermont and myriad points in between.
Their motto: “We Ride for Those Who Died.” And their mission is twofold: to raise awareness of officers killed in the line of duty, and to raise money for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and our programs to honor those who have died in law enforcement service.
This year’s donation will be used for a very special project: a major restoration of the Memorial grounds, including the re-engraving of all 18,983 names on the monument’s two walls. Almost 20 years after its dedication, the Memorial – and the names – are showing signs of wear and tear. But thanks to the hard work and generosity of hundreds of dedicated Police Unity Tour members – law enforcement officers and survivors – those names will be restored to their original strength and grandeur later this year.