Thursday, May 14, 2009

21st Annual Candlelight Vigil

The 21st annual Police Unity Tour candlelight vigil was a moving experience for all of us from CCSO.

The morning of the vigil we finally got a few free hours to relax. All Florida Chapter members rallied in the hotel lobby at 3:15 p.m., looking sharp in their class A uniforms. We left as a group to walk the three blocks to the Metro station that would take us to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Upon our arrival at the memorial we were briefed on the procedures of escorting surviving family members into the ceremony. The survivors arrive by bus and the process takes almost three hours. Bus after bus pulled up to the memorial, the sheer number of "first year" survivors was sobering. Each survivor was handed a rose and escorted by a member of the Police Unity Tour to their seat.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder delivered the keynote address at the vigil. Then, along with Jennifer Thacker, national president of Concerns of Police Survivors, he led the lighting of thousands of candles in honor of America's fallen law enforcement officers. The names of 387 officers killed in the line of duty were read aloud and formally dedicated on the National Law Enforcement Memorial during the ceremony. There were 133 officers killed in 2008, and 254 officers who died in previous years but whose stories had not been previously known or recognized.