Page 18 - November 2021
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They will not be forgotten
On a somber Saturday afternoon, on Oct. 16, 2021, families from across the nation gathered to remember and honor 492 law enforcement offi- cers who died in the line of duty in 2019 and 2020 — including 15 from Illinois and five from Chicago. It was both a privilege and a mov-
ing experience for me to attend the 40th Annual National Peace Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. and witness the re-
membrance over a three-day period.
What many people who are not in the law enforce-
ment field don’t appreciate is the real threat that all po- lice officers face when they leave their homes everyday: not knowing if this will be the day they will make the ultimate sacrifice. The end of watch, sadly, came too soon for many officers whose loved ones assembled on the front lawn of the Capitol to mourn, honor and celebrate them. President Jo- seph Biden vowed that each fallen officer will never be for- gotten. Representatives from the National FOP also spoke eloquently about the heroes who help defend the thin blue line. Chicago’s own Kenyatta Gaines sang a stunning rendi- tion of the national anthem.
The memorial officially started on Thursday night with an
emotional Candlelight Vigil on the steps of the Lincoln Me- morial. Under the perfectly clear night sky, people gathered in silence as the names from each state who lost a member of the law enforcement family were read aloud. Under the
star-filled night, once lit, the flames of the white candles flickered brightly, illuminating the dark grounds with a sense of hope and serenity. U.S. Navy Veteran and mu- sician Dave Bray sang a beautiful ballad, appropriate-
ly called “Last Call,” which left those present in tears. As I reflect back on that weekend, I realize that most citizens in our great country have no idea how dan- gerous it is to be a police officer, especially given today’s anti-police climate. According to the National Law Enforce- ment Officers Memorial Fund, 264 federal, state, military, tribal, and local law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in 2020, while 135 officers died in the line of duty in 2019. In 2020, at least 145 of those deaths have been at- tributed to the COVID-19 virus, which was the leading cause of officers’ deaths (and continues to be in 2021 as well). In 2020, the second-leading cause of officer death, firearms-re- lated fatalities, took 48 lives (and 44 officers died as a result of
offenders using a firearm in 2019).
The danger and threat faced by officers is real and con-

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