It was cloudy, windy and a little chilly as officers and families from around the state of Colorado came together today at the Colorado Law Enforcement Memorial to Officers Killed in the Line of Duty. As the crowd listened to Colorado Governor William Ritter and U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado Troy Eid praise the actions of this year’s additions to the memorial wall, a lone piper played amazing grace and 219 white doves were released into the sky in tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the people of Colorado since it became a state of the union.
The icy wind was a reminder of the harsh reality of the job of peace officer but the children, spouses and family members of those who gave their lives in service was an even more powerful testament to the legacy of sorrow that never leaves a when a peace officer it taken from this earth.
Colorado’s tribute comes just days after the annual engraving ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Memorial where 358 new names were added in preparation for the May 13, 2008 candlelight vigil to recognize the sacrifice of communities all across the United States. Of the 358 new names are the 181 officers from around the United States who died in the line of duty in 2007, and an additional 177 names being added from the past. The U. S. National Memorial now bears the names of 18,274 fallen heroes.
We all knew the risks of this job when we donned the badge and uniform but I’m not sure the families, spouses and kids really understood, and what can we say to them now but “I’m sorry for your loss”. Beyond the walls and the memorials, these people are the flesh and blood legacy of our fallen comrades and we should never forget them either.
The best tribute of all, is for us to be the best we can be. We must continue to elevate our profession in a tradition of honor and to build a positive legacy of our lives through service to others. And when one of us falls, to honor their life and support all they left behind.
What’s your legacy in this world? What will the job bring to you? Will you save lives, change lives, move mountains? Will you live to a ripe old age or be taken too soon? Will you survive the career but lose a limb, or some other capacity? Will you be consumed by stress, alcohol, depression or consider suicide? This job will kill you, it’s just a question of how.
Law Enforcement is funny. We can plan all we want but sometimes the unexpected happens. But shouldn’t we still create our plans anyway?