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Designated in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy to be observed annually on May 15th, this Sunday is Peace Officers Memorial Day. The Presidential proclamation also designates the week during which that date falls each year as National Police Week. So this week is National Police Week.   In observance of this, on today’s bike ride I visited the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. The Memorial, which is dedicated to all law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty, is located at on E Street, between 4th and 5th Streets (MAP), in northwest D.C.’s Judiciary Square neighborhood.

At the time it was dedicated, the names of over 12,000 fallen officers were engraved on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial’s walls. Currently, there are 20,789 names engraved on the walls of the Memorial, which in addition to local law enforcement officers also includes 1,102 Federal officers, as well as 668 correctional officers and 36 military law enforcement officers. These numbers include 292 female officers.

Unfortunately, unlike most other memorials, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial continues to change from year to year. That is because the new names of fallen officers are added to the monument each spring, in conjunction with National Police Week. This year, there will be 117 more names being added to honor the officers who died in the line of duty in 2015.

In an attempt to capture one of the most personal and human elements of the ever-changing Memorial, during my visit today I took photos of some of the poignant tributes and mementos left behind at the memorial during this year’s National Police Week. Placed at the Memorial by the family, colleagues, friends, and other loved ones of the heroes being honored, the various tributes add a personal touch and an added beauty to the Memorial. They also help us to remember and reflect on the fact that the names are more than an inscription on a wall.  Each name represents someone who knowingly and willingly risked his or her life, and paid the ultimate sacrifice, to protect each of us.  The mementos also give us a glimpse of the pain and the sacrifice of those they left behind.  This also holds true for the 36 law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty already this year.

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Be sure to click on the thumbnails for the full-size photos, so that you can view the details and personalized nature of the tributes.  In addition to the patches, badges, photos and flowers left behind, there are also a number of other personal mementos that may really make you think.

Then after you have browsed through the photos, I encourage you to watch the following short video, narrated by legendary news commentator, author and columnist Paul Harvey, to find out just who policemen and law enforcement officers really are.  And by the way, Paul Harvey’s father, Harry Aurandt, was a  police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  He was killed when Paul Harvey was only three years old.  And his name is inscribed on the wall of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

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