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National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund commemorates fallen heroes at 36th Annual Candlelight Vigil

Frank Ray, a retired New Mexico police officer and country music recording artist, sang the national anthem and performed poignant musical tributes

By Police1 Staff

WASHINGTON — Last night, the National Mall was bathed in the glow of thousands of candles as the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) hosted its 36th Annual Candlelight Vigil. This poignant event honored the memories of 282 officers whose names were newly engraved on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial wall, raising the total to 24,067 fallen heroes.

Bill Alexander, CEO of the NLEOMF and a retired police officer, opened the evening with a touching reflection on the significance of the event and the impact of those remembered. “Tonight, we gather to reflect on another chapter of that American story, a story to which both you and your loved ones are now inextricably linked,” he said. He emphasized the unity and support within the law enforcement community that continues even after officers have fallen. “Each of the heroes we honor tonight and the families they leave behind will now forever be a part of the ongoing story of American law enforcement, a story filled with selfless heroism, dedicated service and heartbreaking sacrifice.”

The Honorable Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of the United States Department of Homeland Security, also spoke at the vigil, highlighting the courage and dedication of law enforcement officers. He focused on the broader impact of their sacrifice, saying, “Their service will not be forgotten even long after this Candlelight Vigil ends because their contributions to our country endure.” Mayorkas expressed deep respect for the fallen, acknowledging the profound loss felt by their families and colleagues: “To the families and loved ones of the fallen with us tonight, we offer you our deepest sympathy, appreciation and respect. No one serves alone, and we are indebted to you for the sacrifices you have made in the service of the American people and our way of life.”

Here are some scenes from the Vigil:

Adding a personal touch to the ceremony, Frank Ray, a retired Las Cruces, New Mexico police officer and country music recording artist, sang the national anthem and performed poignant musical tributes. Ray, whose songs reflect his experiences in law enforcement, sang “Badge 764,” a song that captures the day-to-day life and emotional depth of a police officer.

The ceremony reached its emotional peak during the reading of the names of the recently fallen, followed by a candle-lighting ceremony. Each participant held a candle, creating a sea of light illuminating the National Mall. This powerful visual act served as a collective tribute to the memory and legacy of the fallen officers, symbolizing the eternal light of their sacrifice.

The vigil concluded with the playing of “Taps” by members of the United States Capitol Police, a poignant reminder of the ultimate sacrifices made by the officers.

This annual vigil not only serves as a moment of national remembrance but also reinforces the bonds within the law enforcement community, ensuring that the heroism of fallen officers continues to inspire and resonate across generations.