During National Police Week, we honor our fallen law officers with ceremonies around the country in state capitals and major cities. By far the biggest gathering occurs in Washington, D.C., and includes a candlelight ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. I’ve made it a point to honor these ceremonies by attending whenever possible. This year, I spent Wednesday, May 13 around the National Memorial wall. There’s a lot to see this time of the year: patches, newspaper clippings, heartbreaking notes from kids, even a wedding announcement for a daughter who won’t have her dad to walk her down the aisle. I spent hours reviewing the mementos and messages posted there.
I met a lot of people and heard dozens of gut-wrenching stories. In the late afternoon, the survivor buses arrived and the family members of those who lost officers during the last year were escorted to their seats. As they stepped off the bus, each accompanied by a uniformed officer, it was apparent that many of them were shell shocked. Visibly stunned by what they were experiencing, they had been brought to a ceremony which none of them asked for and certainly none of them had wanted for their family member. The ceremony was appropriately somber with speeches and songs and included the solemn roll call of those whose names had been added to the wall.
The candle lighting ceremony is a marvel of simplicity and efficiency. Starting with one central candle, the flame was passed from one person to another, the Memorial soon glowed with thousands of small handheld candles. You’d think it would take a long time to accomplish this, but the rapid spread of light across the crowd reminded me of the speed with which the news of a fallen officer travels.
It was an honor to be part of the ceremonies, and I hope you enjoy the photos of this very special event. This was not my first candlelight ceremony, and it won’t be my last. We must continue to honor those who have fallen and support their families.
In support of the mission of National Police Week, we have also collected photos of local memorials. Thank you to the police departments from across the country who submitted photos. Visit
o view more.