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Honoring Those Who Made The Ultimate Sacrifice

May 13, 2015

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15 falls as National Police Week. This year the names of 273 fallen officers were added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., which includes 117 officers who died in the line of duty in 2014.  

President Kennedy once said, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men and women it produces, but also by the men and women it honors, the men and women it remembers.” 

We pay tribute to these brave souls not because they died, but because by their heroic actions, they ensured others could live in peace. 

Law enforcement officers rush towards danger to help the helpless, they shield those who are vulnerable, lift those who have fallen, and give comfort to those in fear. In rooting out the lawless, it is the police who preserve order. 

The police are the thin blue line representing that narrow gap between good and evil.  Unfortunately, according to the officer down memorial page, as of may 13, 44 officers have died in the line of duty since January 2015.

Each person we pay tribute to represents a different set of facts including pain and sorrow for a family that can only be numbed by the anesthesia of knowing that their loved ones didn’t die in vain. 

Law enforcement officers are connected to each other not just by the profession, but by the mystique of a badge and what it stands for – honor, commitment and dignity. 

The Florida law enforcement memorial ceremonies were last week. There was no shortage of tears for the grieving survivors as we watched an array of blue lights during the candle light vigil. 

The 2014 class of florida fallen officers are Orange County deputy Scott Pine, Windermere officer Robert German, Jacksonville officer Mark Larson, Trooper Chelsea Richard, Leon County deputy Christopher Smith and Tarpon Springs officer Charles Kondek.

Just as I did in Tallahassee last week, I must underscore the current state of affairs for american policing.

Law enforcement officers are under fire and taking the heat for all social injustice.

As Plato wrote, “In a republic that honors the core of democracy – the greatest amount of power is given to those called guardians. Only those with the most impeccable character are chosen to bear the responsibility of protecting the democracy”.

The police are guardians of the community because of their duty to protect and serve.

The collateral damage of the distrust of the police by citizens has the potential to cause more police officers and citizens to needlessly die.  We, as a nation, must be careful not to create an environment in which officers fail to act out of fear of criticism when they should act.  That hesitation might cost them their life and as such, we’ll continue to add names of police officers to monuments.

Conversely, we must work collaboratively with our communities to reduce tensions that put us at odds with the same people we are sworn to protect.

Police officers wear badges over their hearts for a reason; because they pledge allegiance to one nation under god and swear to protect and defend it, even in the face of death.

The National Law Enforcement Memorial ceremonies are this week in Washington, D.C. where the national monument bears the names of 20,538 officers. 

As the hours, days, months and years go by, the families have a new normal as they seek to put their shattered lives back together.  They must now view the world around them through a new prism.  

May god bless a grateful nation which sees fit to honor the sacrifice of men and women who serve as peace keepers on the streets of our homeland and may god bless the grieving families and survivors of our fallen heroes.