Photos: Candlelight vigil at National Police Week honors LEOs we've lost
The names of 360 law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty – including 129 who died in 2017 – were formally dedicated on Sunday evening
By Police1 Staff
As the last notes of Taps drifted into the night at the conclusion of this year’s Candlelight Vigil, the rain started to drop from the heavens, having patiently held off for the 90-minute remembrance event honoring those officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
This was the 30th Candlelight Vigil, an annual tribute to our nation’s law enforcement officers that has become a signature event of the National Police Week observance in the nation’s capital.
Former attorney general and chair of the board of the National Law Enforcement Officers Fund (NLEOMF) John Ashcroft provided welcoming remarks where he noted that this year’s ceremony was particularly poignant because it was on Mother’s Day: “We have with us tonight spouses of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice protecting our freedom. So many of these survivors are mothers who have had to assume the responsibilities of both mother and father.”
The names of 360 law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty – including 129 who died in 2017 – were formally dedicated on Sunday evening, their names added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial this spring.
The national monument now contains the names of 21,541 fallen law enforcement officers – from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, federal, corrections, railroad, and military police agencies – who died in the performance of duty throughout U.S. history, dating back to the first known officer death in 1791.
“I believe it is our sacred duty to honor the fallen by stopping the falling and we can, each in our own way, help protect law enforcement by beginning to restore a respect for the rule of law in our nation,” said Ashcroft. “It is not enough to simply carve names on the wall. We need to tell the inspiring stories of these individuals, their heroism, dedication and devotion for which they died. Every citizen in this nation should be humbled by their sacrifice. That is why we are building a national law enforcement museum, which will open on October 11, where the stories of our fallen heroes will be told – the hall of remembrance will be the heart and soul of the museum, but we want it to be a hall of inspiration.”
Ashcroft then introduced U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions who told the 30,000 police officers and family members in attendance that as long as he is Attorney General, the Department of Justice will have the back of all honest and honorable law enforcement officers: “I know that without your courage, steadfastness and sense of duty, the job would not be done. We all know that in the performance of that duty we lose the lives of some fine officers every day. President Trump has repeatedly said he is the ‘law and order President’ and the first order he gave me on my first day in office was to back the men and women in blue, and you can be sure that is the pole star of my efforts.”
The roll call of fallen heroes was undoubtedly the most impactful part of the vigil. Attorney General Jeff Sessions commenced the reading of the fallen officers’ names, which was then followed by the candle-lighting.
For more information, including the names of officers added this year to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, visit www.LawMemorial.org/2018RollCall.