Posts Tagged ‘National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial’

Police Week Tributes 2018

This week is National Police Week, and during this lunchtime bike ride I stopped by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.  I stop by every year during National Police Week because it is one of the most personal and deeply meaningful aspects of the week.  The things you see here in D.C. during the week can be entertaining, like the various vehicles.  And the Blue Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, to include the procession that precedes it, as well as the Peace Officers Memorial Service like the one yesterday, are all quite moving.  But to better understand the sacrifices made by the officers being honored and remembered, and the loss and the pain of the family members, friends and fellow officers they left behind, looking through the tributes left on or near the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is one of the most meaningful ways to do it.

Beginning last year, one of the first things I look for at the memorial are tributes left in memory of Officer Ashley Guindon (see photo above), a local area officer who was ambushed and killed in 2016 on her very first day on the job.  Her name was added to the wall last year.  After that, as I look through the tributes, I try to imagine the stories behind them.  When I see them some of the tributes such as official photos and news articles give me a glimpse into the personality of the hero lost.  And when I see small footprints or handprints made with paint, or family photos taken during happier times, I think about the children who are growing up without a parent.  When I see beer or a couple of shot glasses, I think about the partners and coworkers who used to go out for a drink after their shift or maybe on the weekend, but are now learning to live with the pain of their loss.  When I see hearts or flowers or other personal mementos, I think of the spouses or other family members who will never see their loved ones again during this lifetime.  And when I see tributes to officers who were killed years or even decades ago it shows me that the passage of time does not diminish the losses suffered.

The tributes left behind at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial change every year, sadly, much like the memorial itself, to which names are added every year.  But the names are more than just inscriptions in cold marble.  They are the names of men and women who were heroes.  But they were not just heroes for the way they died.  They were heroes for the way they lived.  And the tributes left at the memorial help convey that to those of us for who they died to serve and protect.

 

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

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National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service

This week is National Police Week, which began yesterday and ends this Saturday.  And today is National Peace Officers Memorial Day.  In observance of the event, during my lunchtime outing I attended today’s National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service, which was held on the West Front of the United States Capitol Building (MAP).

Today’s memorial service, sponsored by the Grand Lodge Fraternal Order of Police and the Grand Lodge Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary, was the 36th annual national service to honor law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty during the previous year.  Overall, 118 officers who died in 2016, and 66 were “victims of malicious attacks.” That represents an increase of almost 40 percent from the previous year.

As is traditional, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation to: designate May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day; to direct government officials to display the United States flag at half staff on all government buildings; and to invite state and local governments and the people to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.  The ceremony I attended at the Capitol Building began at 11:00am, and was attended for the very first time by both the President and the Vice President.

The activities began with a lining of the route by hundreds of various motorcycles officers from around the country as busload after busload of spouse and other family members of fallen officers proceeded down Independence Avenue and across the front of the Capitol Building along 3rd Street before entering onto the Capitol Grounds to attend the ceremony.

The highlight of the service for me was when President Trump spoke about Officer Ashley Guindon, a local police officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty last February on her very first day on the job, having been sworn in just the day before.  My youngest daughter and I went out to pay our respects and help line the route when she was killed.

Some of the other highlights for me of the service included the music.  The service opened with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner by a retired New York City Police Officer, and country music star Kellie Pickler also sang.  The rest of the service included addresses number of speakers, including President Trump, Vice President Pence, othrpoliticians, law enforcement officials, and clergy.  Finally, a Wreath Laying Ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial was held immediately following the memorial service.  The service and wreath laying were very moving and thought provoking, and served to remind us all of the service and sacrifice of those sworn to protect and serve.

         

         

         

         

         
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Sometimes it’s the little things and details that will catch my eye. Here’s one last photo from today’s National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service that I think is particularly poignant and provocative.  It’s of the wife of a fallen officer who was sitting in the grass and leaning back, and I think it hints that there is a very emotional story behind the image.

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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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The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

Designated by President John F. Kennedy to be observed annually on May 15th, tomorrow is Peace Officers Memorial Day.  The Presidential proclamation also designates the week during which that date falls each year as National Police Week.  So in observance of this, today I rode by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, which is located in 400 block of E Street (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Judiciary Square neighborhood.

Dedicated on October 15, 1991, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial honors Federal, state and local law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty, making the ultimate sacrifice for the safety and protection of our nation and its people. It features two curving, 304-foot-long blue-gray marble walls on which are carved the names of the officers who have been killed in the line of duty throughout U.S. history, dating back to the first known death of Constable Darius Quimby of the Albany County, New York, Constable’s Office, who was shot while making an arrest on January 3, 1791

Designed by architect Davis Buckley, the Memorial features a reflecting pool which is surrounded by walkways on either side of a three-acre park. Along the walkways are the walls on which are inscribed the names of the fallen law enforcement officers which the Memorial honors.

The Memorial also features four bronze sculptures depicting two male and two female lions, with each watching over a pair of lion cubs. The adult lions were sculpted by Raymond Kaskey, the cubs by George Carr. Below each lion is carved a different quotation, which read: “It is not how these officers died that made them heroes, it is how they lived.” – Vivian Eney Cross, Survivor; “In valor there is hope.” – Tacitus; “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” – Proverbs 28:1, and; a quote by President George H. W. Bush, which reads, “Carved on these walls is the story of America, of a continuing quest to preserve both democracy and decency, and to protect a national treasure that we call the American dream.”

Unlike many of the other memorials in the city, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is ever-changing. That is because new names of fallen officers are added to the monument each spring, in conjunction with National Police Week. At the time it was dedicated, the names of over 12,000 fallen officers were engraved on the Memorial’s walls. Currently, there are 20,267 names on the Memorial, which in addition to local law enforcement officers also includes 1,092 Federal officers, as well as 633 correctional officers and 34 military law enforcement officers. These numbers include 280 female officers. There will be 117 more names being added to honor the officers who died in the line of duty in 2014. Sadly, this is a nine percent increase from 2013, when 107 officers were killed.

Although the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial sits on Federal land, it was constructed and is maintained with private funds, not taxpayer dollars. To learn even more about the memorial and the organization that maintains it, please visit the web site for The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.  And since the fund relies on the generosity of individuals, organizations and corporations to maintain the memorial and carry out the work of honoring and remembering our countey’s law enforcement heroes, please consider making a donation.

Please also take a moment before the end of National Police Week to remember all of the Federal, state and local law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the safety and protection of our nation, as well as the more than 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers currently serving throughout this country.

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Leslie William “Les” Coffelt Memorial Ride

Leslie William “Les” Coffelt Memorial Ride

This past weekend marked the 64th anniversary of first Secret Service Officer killed in the line of duty.  On November 1, 1950, Leslie William “Les” Coffelt, was killed while protecting President Harry Truman from an assassination attempt.  So, on this bike ride I rode to two of the locations connected to Officer Coffelt. The first was The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, located at E and 5th Streets in northwest D.C. (MAP). I also rode by Blair House, which is the President’s guest house located near the White House at 1651 Pennsylvania Avenue (MAP), and where a commemorative plaque honors Coffelt’s sacrifice.

Back in the autumn of 1950, President Truman and his family were living in the nearby Blair House on Pennsylvania Avenue while the White House was being renovated.  On the afternoon of November 1, Truman and his wife were upstairs when they heard a commotion and gunshots coming from the front steps of the house.  A pair of would-be assassins named Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo, nationalists who supported independence for Puerto Rico from the United States, werer attacking officers at the Blair House in an attempt to assassinate President Truman. They never made it past the entry steps, however, due to the quick reaction of police officers and guards.

Torresola approached from the west side while Collazo engaged Secret Service Officers and White House policemen from the east. Torresola approached the guard booth at the west corner of the Blair House and fired at Coffelt from close range. His three shots struck Coffelt in the chest and abdomen, mortally wounding him. A fourth shot passed through the policeman’s tunic.

Torresola shot two other policemen before running out of ammunition, then moved to the left of the Blair House steps to reload. Coffelt went out of his booth and fired at Torresola from 31 feet away, hitting him behind the ear and killing him instantly. Coffelt limped back to the booth and blacked out. He died of his wounds four hours later in a hospital.

Collazo later revealed to police just how poorly planned the assassination attempt actually was. The assailants were unsure if Truman would even be in the house when they launched their attack at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Torresola and Collazo were political activists and members of the extremist Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, a group fighting for full independence from the U.S. The “Independistas,” as they were commonly called, targeted President Truman despite his support of greater Puerto Rican autonomy.

President Truman escaped unscathed, and apparently unfazed by the attempt on his life, he kept his scheduled appointments for the remainder of the day. “A President has to expect these things,” he remarked dryly.

Officer Coffelt is still the only Secret Service member to be killed while defending the President. Collazo was sentenced to death, but in an act of forgiveness on July 24, 1952, Truman commuted the sentence to life imprisonment. Disgracefully, President Jimmy Carter later commuted Officer Cofflet’s killer’s sentence to time served, and granted the man release. Collazo returned to Puerto Rico, where he died 15 years later.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial honors the more than 19,000 U.S. law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty throughout this country’s history. The memorial features a reflecting pool which is surrounded by walkways on a 3-acre park. Along the walkways are walls that are inscribed with names of all U.S. law enforcement officers — federal, state, and local — who have died in the line of duty.  This includes Officer Coffelt.

Officer Coffelt’s name is inscribed on Panel 23-W of the Memorial. Ironically, the next two names engraved on the same panel immediately after Officer Coffelt’s are A.M. Blair (who was a detective with the Greenville, S.C., police department, killed in 1919 while raiding a dice game) and John House (a patrol officer in St. Joseph, Mo., who was accidentally shot by a fellow officer during a domestic disturbance call in 1922). So as it turned out, the two names following Officer Coffelt’s are Blair and House – Blair House – the location where Officer Cofflet was killed.

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Peace Officers Memorial Day and National Police Week

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day, and the week in which that date falls as National Police Week.  So to commemorate today’s beginning of this year’s National Police Week, I am highlighting the events taking place, many of which will take place at The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, located on E Street, between 4th and 5th Streets, in northwest D.C. (MAP).  The Memorial is the nation’s monument to law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.  Unfortunately, unlike many other memorials in D.C., the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is always changing, with new names of fallen officers added to the monument each spring, in conjunction with National Police Week.

Activities and events scheduled for this week are varied, from Thursday’s Fraternal Order of Police Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Memorial to the 33rd Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day Services, also on Thursday, on the front lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building.  Some of the other activites will include:  Wednesday’s 20th Annual Emerald Society and Pipeband March to and Service at the Memorial;  the National Police Survivors’ Conference on Wednesday in nearby Alexandria, Virginia, and; The National Law Enforcement Prayer Breakfast and Blessing of the Badge, to take place at the Ronald Reagan Building on Thursday.  One of the  highlights of the week will be the 26th Annual Candlelight Vigil, which will take place on Thursday at the Memorial.  A reading of the names newly engraved on the Memorial will immediately follow the vigil.

On average, one law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty somewhere in the U.S. every 58 hours.  Since the first known line-of-duty death in 1791, more than 19,000 U.S. law enforcement officers have made the ultimate sacrifice.  Last year, 101 men and 4 women serving in law enforcement died in the line of duty across the country.  In  2013, more officers were killed in Texas (13) than any other state; followed by California (10); Mississippi and New York (7); and Arkansas (6).  Nine officers killed in 2013 served with Federal law enforcement agencies.  On average, the officers who died in 2013 were 42 years old and had served for 13 years.  A complete copy of the preliminary report on 2013 law enforcement fatalities is available at:  http://www.nleomf.org/facts/research-bulletins/.

The good news is that law enforcement officer fatalities dropped for the second year in a row to the lowest level since 1959, and the number of officers killed in firearms-related incidents this year was the fewest since the 1800’s.  The significant drop in law enforcement fatalities during the past two years serves as encouragement that the  intensified effort to promote law enforcement safety is making a difference.  But the only acceptable number would be zero deaths, and there have already been 34 officers killed in 2014.

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