By: Tom Duggan – October, 2010
Last month hundreds of friends supporters and elected officials gathered at the Meadow Creek Golf Club in Dracut to honor the outgoing State Senator Steve Panagiotakos who announced earlier this year that he would not be seeking reelection after 21 consecutive years as an elected official.
Flanked by State Rep. Tommy Golden, Senator Steve Baddour, former Senate President’s Tom Birmingham and Robert Travaglini, Lowell City Councilor and former Mayor Rita Mercier, Mayor Ed Bud Caulfield, and dozens of others, Panagiotakos thanked the crowd and talked about the importance of public service.
Lowell Police Detective Bryan McMahon, president of the New England Police Benevolent Association approached the podium and presented Senator Panagiotakos with a framed photo of his uncle’s name on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington DC. On November 17, 1978 Panagiotakos’ uncle, Lowell Police Officer Christos G Rouses was killed in the line of duty answering a call at Limby’s Drug Store at the corner of Middlesex ad Branch Street. McMahon was the dispatcher who sent Rouses to the call on that dark day.
Panagiotakos accepted the photo and hugged it for a moment before thanking McMahon.
Craig Floyd, President of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington DC flew in special for the event to honor Panagiotakos for his life long dedication to law enforcement. The memorial in our nations capital has the name of every police officer who has ever been killed in the line of duty engraved on two semi-circular walls.
Portions of the proceeds from the event went to the building of the National Law Enforcement Officers Museum.
Floyd said that Law enforcement had no greater friend in the Massachusetts State Senate than Steve Panagiotakos.
“Let me just say that I’ve had the privilege of serving for ten years as a legislative assistant to US Representative Mario Biaggi. I understand the value of having people in state and national offices who care and support our Law enforcement officers. Having someone like [Senator Panagiotakos] in the legislature means a great difference. Because, those men and women are out there putting their lives at risk for our safety and protection, and we need to take care of them. And this State Senator has done that. We are going to miss him here in Massachusetts and this nation needs more people like him who care about the law enforcement professionals in our nation.”
“Let me give you a couple of statistics: one police officer is killed in the line of duty every 54 hours.
There are now 19,000 names on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington DC.
There are some 16,000 assaults by criminals against police officers in this country every year, resulting in 17,000 injuries. And yet despite those threats, those odds, there are 900,000 federal, state and local law enforcement officers who go out each and every day putting their lives at risk. We owe those men and women a huge debt of gratitude.
So, thanks to the efforts of a lot of good people in this country, members of the law enforcement community, we dedicated the National Law Enforcement Memorial.
On that wall in Washington DC are hundreds of officers from Massachusetts who died in the line of duty including Chris Rouses who is the uncle of State Senator Steve Panagiotakos. His name, along with all the others are forever honored on that national monument. But, the problem with that monument is: most visitors don’t know the stories behind those names.
So, we’re involved now in an historic initiative which will kick off on October 14th. We are going to break ground on the first ever National Law Enforcement Officers Museum right across the street from our national memorial. Thanks to Senator Panagiotakos, tonight’s proceeds will go to help build that National Law Enforcement Officers Museum. So they won’t just be honored, but their stories will be remembered forever, stories like that of officer Chris Roussus and the sacrifice of so many others.
Senator, I want to thank you for what you have done here for us tonight, and thank you for your years of service to law enforcement and I want to give you, on behalf of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a commemorative coin, a challenge coin to commemorate the ground breaking of the National Law Enforcement Officers Museum. Thank you Senator.”