may 15th is national peace officer memorial day and is a day when the 800,000 U.S. law enforcement officers (and countless others from foreign agencies) honor those among us who have served and fallen. each year, the NLEOMF (National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund) sponsors a week of activities, ceremonies, and seminars, commonly called "Police Week," in washington, d.c. which focuses on the fallen officers, their families, and their coworkers.
for me, the police fraternity has supplanted (for the most part) my own biological family and my emotions and loyalties run deep with what has come to be known as "the blue brotherhood." each year since i became a police officer (way back in 2003) i have made the trek to the national memorial in d.c. and have paid my respects to my fallen brothers and sisters. last year was the first time in 6 years that i didn't get to go (because i was in another academy here in the springs) and it hurt me deeply to have to miss it. fortunately, the stars aligned this year and i made it back east for at least part of the festivities.
i selflessly braved sleep deprivation and alcohol poisoning to make it there and back in a 4 day window but i reunited once again with my east coast colleagues and likewise with the spirit of the memorial week. it's a great time. in a lot of ways, it's like a week-long wake. there's camaraderie, sharing of stories, bearing of secrets, purging of guilts, and lots and lots of the police officer's stress reliever of choice, alcohol. sparing the gory details....it's always a bittersweet event for me. i always leave there with a better understanding of the job we do and of myself in general. i get intensely emotional (even now as i write this) and really connect with that intangible link that joins all police officers as family.
the one event that especially wrecks me every year is the candlelight vigil. the family metaphor is punctuated by the hundreds of officers standing shoulder to shoulder around the fallen officer's memorial sharing the flame from a central candle lighted in remembrance of officers killed in the line of duty and the observance of a bright blue laser beam cast skyward representing "the thin blue line" that all members of the police profession comprise. i'm going to need a moment....talk amongst yourselves....for ALL of the warriors who have fought and fallen...
shedding a tear,