Posts Tagged ‘#BlueLivesMatter’

Today’s Blue Mass

On my lunchbreak at work today I attended the Blue Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, located at 619 10th Street (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Penn Quarter neighborhood.  Celebrated annually, a Blue Mass is a service held to honor those in the “public safety field” (i.e. police officers, firefighters, correctional officers, 911 operators and EMS personnel), who died in the line of duty during the past year, and to pray for the safety in the coming year of those still serving.  And although held in a Catholic Church, the services are generally considered to be ecumenical or non-denominational.

Rev. Thomas Dade started the tradition as part of his duties with the Catholic Police and Fireman’s Society, and held the first ever Blue Mass on September 29, 1934, to coincide with Michaelmas, the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of police officers and military personnel.  And that first service was held in the very same church where today’s mass was celebrated.

Blue Masses are currently celebrated nationwide, with many of the services still being held in September.  But here in D.C., the service is now held each May, shortly before the beginning of National Police Week, which this year runs from this Sunday (May 12th) through the following Saturday (May 18th).

Before today’s Mass, hundreds of law enforcement officers and public safety officials gathered outside for a solemn processional into St. Patrick’s.  Units from various Federal, state, and local jurisdictions from across the country gathered in formation to pass under a huge American flag proudly hung over the street by two fire ladder trucks.  Also gathered outside were officers on horseback, in color guards, as well as in pipe and drum corps units. The Mass included an honor guard, bagpipers, and concluded with the solemn playing of “Taps” in memory of those who gave their lives in the past year.

The Mass was an opportunity for the community to show its gratitude to first responders and their families.  But that need not be limited to today’s service.  So when you see a first responder, especially this week or next week during National Police Week, let him or her know that you appreciate their service and sacrifice.  And say a prayer for their safety.

 

The Procession Into the Church

 

[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]

Psalm 91:11, “For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service].”

Police Officers’ Prayer to St. Michael, the Archangel

Dear Saint Michael, Your name means, “Who is Like a God”, and it indicates that You remained faithful when others rebelled against God. Help the police officers of our day who strive to stem the rebellion and evil that are rampant on all sides. Keep them faithful to their God as well as to their country and their fellow human beings.  Amen.

Firefighters’ Prayer to Saint Florian

Dear God, through the intercession of our patron, Saint Florian, have mercy on the souls of our comrades who have made the supreme sacrifice in the performance of their duty, and on all who have gone before us after years of faithful discharge of their responsibilities which now rest on ourselves. Give us Grace to prepare each day for our own summons to Your tribunal of justice. Into Your hands O Lord, I commend my spirit. Whenever You call me, I am ready to go. Merciful Father of all men and women, save me from all bodily harm, if it be Your will, but above all, help me to be loyal and true, respectful and honorable, obedient and valiant. Thus fortified by virtue, I shall have no fear, for I shall then belong to You and shall never be separated from You.  Amen.

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As the week designated for recognizing and honoring our nations law enforcement officers is coming to an end, I thought I’d share these photos of some of the many different law enforcement vehicles I have happened upon on the streets of D.C.  I don’t know how many of them may still be in official use.  Or whether they are for just ceremonies and special occasions.  But I found them all interesting, and yet another reason to visit the city on Peace Officers Memorial Day (which this year is tomorrow), and throughout National Police Week.

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[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]

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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.

Although most of my posts in this blog are about my weekday, lunchtime bike rides around the city, with an occasional weekend or holiday excursion to local and regional parks in the greater metropolitan area, for this post I ventured out to an evening event on a weekday.

Last night I stood, along with the local community, to pay my respects and honor Prince William County Police Officer Ashley Guindon.  Officer Guindon was killed in the line of duty, and two other officers – Jesse Hempen and David McKeown, were shot and wounded when they responded to a domestic violence call this past Saturday.  It was her first day on the job, having been sworn in just the day before.  So last night, as dozens upon dozens of police motorcycles and cruisers with red-and-blue flashing lights lit up the darkness, we “lined the route” as Officer Guindon’s body was taken to the Hylton Memorial Chapel, located at 14640 Potomac Mills Road in Woodbridge (MAP).  A viewing will take place at the chapel beginning at 10:00am today, and it is open to the public.  The public is also invited to the funeral service beginning at noon, but it should be known that priority will be given to law enforcement and government officials if space becomes an issue.

Police are warning people not to donate to GoFundMe pages that purport to be raising money for Guindon’s family.  It has been determined that at least one fraudulent page was set up in the Officer Guindon’s name.  The Prince William County Police Association has created an official memorial fund, with all donations going directly to Officer Guindon’s family.  Anyone who wishes to donate can leave their donation at any county police station or mail it directly to the police association at: Prince William County Police Association, Officer Guindon Memorial Fund, P. O. Box 1845, Manassas, VA 20108.