By: Jeff Katz – May, 2017
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy designated May 15th as Peace Officers’ Memorial Day. President Kennedy further designated the week in which that date falls as Police Week. In the fifty five years since President Kennedy issued his proclamations, we have lost thousands of law enforcement officers. Some of these heroes were police officers, others deputy sheriffs, state troopers and Federal agents. Men, as well as women, gave their lives, some wearing uniforms while others were in plain clothes. Regardless of their age, sex, department, skin color or religion each of the fallen made the ultimate sacrifice. They each laid down their lives while serving others.
During May, numerous opportunities will be presented for honoring law enforcement officers doing the job day in and day out. Some local agencies will invite interested members of the community to attend ceremonies paying tribute to those officers who went above and beyond this past year. Some civic groups and religious organizations will take the chance to salute the best of the badge. There will be events which are packed with attendees and others where, sadly, you won’t have any difficulty finding a seat.
At the end of the day however, once the police officers have collected their ribbons and plaques, they will return to the front lines while most of society returns to the comfort of their homes. The police officer reports to work at any time on any day. Regardless of weather or prior personal commitments, our officers can be called in to action whenever needs arise. While most of us go home at the end of the day with no further job requirements, law enforcement personnel are never truly completely off duty.
While it’s been decades since I wore a badge, I suppose I still think as a cop. I know full well, the personal sacrifices our law enforcement officers make on a daily basis. I appreciate the willingness of our heroes to give up so much in a never ending effort to hold that thin line which separates civil society from lawlessness. In an age of omnipresent cell phone video, social media blitzes and rushes to judgment by anti-police zealots it has become more difficult than ever before for the good guys to go out and do what’s right and yet they still do.
I would urge you to attend any ceremonies you can during Police Week to show your support for our men and women in blue (and brown and green, etc.).
If you are so inclined, remember in your prayers and thoughts, not just the 144 officers who died in the line of duty this past year but the families, friends and co-workers who are missing them. And take a second, to simply walk up to a law enforcement officer and just say thank you. You will make a difference in their day in a way that you cannot even begin to imagine.