Each year, for the past six years, Officer.com has been honored to live stream the Candlelight Vigil so that officers, families, friends and law enforcement supporters who can’t make it into DC to see the Vigil in person can still share in this highly moving event. I encourage every officer to make the pilgrimage for Police Week at least once in their career, and preferably in the first five years if you can.
Police week kicks off (unfortunately) on Mother’s Day most years. The Candlelight Vigil is held on May 13th every year and National Police Memorial Day is May 15th (as declared by an Act of Congress). While the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) maintains the Memorial and runs the Vigil, the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) runs another memorial service on the west lawn of the Capital Building each May 15th. Both events can make even the hardest of people cry and I’ve seen people completely unrelated to law enforcement but in attendance for whatever reason, moved to tears.
Yesterday (Monday, May 12th) I had the pleasure of walking around the Law Enforcement Memorial grounds, interacting with various folks, seeing the sights and remembering officers I knew whose names are now on those walls. It was an honor to have worn the badge beside them. Their memory motivates me to conform my own actions and teachings to be worthy of their approval.
As also happens every year, I had the chance to meet some brother officers from other areas. In this case, it was a couple of brothers from Boston and East Hartford. I enjoyed a few minutes of conversation, discussing how law enforcement has evolved in the past thirty years (about how long I’ve been in it) and where it’s going in the next thirty. I was humbled when one of the officers, upon finding out my position with Officer.com, complimented me on our site and some of the feature material we present. He made the statement that he often refers “his rookies” to our officer survival videos and uses Officer.com as an instructional resource. To be worthy of that is a goal is motivation to insure that the material Officer.com posts is timely and valuable, most especially where officer survival information is concerned.
And I do consider Police Week as much about Officer Survival as I do about remembering the fallen. What each any every fallen officer leaves us is a lesson; an unfortunate lesson in what we shouldn’t do. I do honestly believe that each and every officer whose name is on those hallowed walls would encourage us to learn and train, to better prepare ourselves so that we DON’T join their ranks. As much as we remember and honor them, we should strive not to join them and I’m pretty sure they’d be more than okay with that idea. Even in death our brothers and sisters would rather not ever see another name added to the wall.
So, as you go about your day – whether it’s working the streets, sleeping to get rested for a midnight shift, or walking in among our fraternal family at the NLEO Memorial in DC – keep the significance of the week in mind. Find or make time to watch the Candlelight Vigil, in person or online; enjoy the camaraderie that saturates Tent City and use both to recharge your emotional batteries. When you go back to the street, stay alert and stay alive. I believe we honor our fallen most by respecting their wishes that we not become one of them.
Stay safe, brothers and sisters.