11 May 2013

Peace Officers Memorial Day

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week. The Memorial Service began in 1982 as a gathering in Senate Park of approximately 120 survivors and supporters of law enforcement. Decades later, the event, more commonly known as National Police Week, has grown to a series of events which attracts thousands of survivors and law enforcement officers to our Nation's Capital each year.

Each May during National Police Week, new names are added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial walls. In 2012, there were 362 names added to the Memorial. These names include both officers who died in the line of duty during the previous calendar year, as well as officers who were killed earlier in history but whose line-of-duty sacrifices only recently came to light.

The Unveiling Day ceremony is an event held each spring to symbolically commemorate the service and sacrifice of all of the men and women who have given their lives for the safety and protection of others.

Among the fallen law enforcement officers who are honored on the monument is
4-E: 10
End of Watch: April 17, 1990
Beaufort County, South Carolina, Sheriff's Department

Walter Dennis wrote a poem "Tribute to Deputy Russell Bell (Killed in the line of duty.) for inclusion in his self-published pamphlet of poems and short stories, Street People:

I didn't know him
Nor did many of the thousands
Who came that day to say goodbye.
But we felt his presence in his widow's eyes
Who must carry on and continue on with life.
We could feel his love in his children's faces
Who were left to grow up
With only memories of a great man.
We could see his compassion in the deep furrows
Of his mother's face who had lost
All that was precious and all that was good.
We could feel his strength
Etched in the faces of his friends
Who had been touched by his short life.
And in his peers, we could feel his dignity and his courage
Standing proudly beside him
But we all thank him for what he did.
For each of us he gave his life
So we might live a better one.
We will honor your memory and forever remember your name.
For you are the man who gave so much
To those of us you hardly knew.
Other fallen officers honored by the monument from Beaufort County, SC are:
5-E: 20
End of Watch: January 6, 1925
Beaufort County, South Carolina, Sheriff's Department

48-W: 23
End of Watch: January 8, 2002
Beaufort County, South Carolina, Sheriff's Department

49-W: 20
End of Watch: June 6, 1927
Beaufort County, South Carolina, Sheriff's Department

13-E: 23
End of Watch: January 8, 2002
Beaufort County, South Carolina, Sheriff's Department

22-W: 18
End of Watch: August 19, 1969
South Carolina Highway Patrol

5-W: 2
End of Watch: September 27, 1985
South Carolina Highway Patrol

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