Police Week: Time to Show Appreciation

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), May 13, 2012 | Go to article overview
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Police Week: Time to Show Appreciation


Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Erik Humphrey

Today starts the beginning of Police Week. Police Week emerged in 1961 when Congress declared May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day in the United States. The week encompassing May 15 is designated as Police Week.

The May 15 remembrance and celebration became law with President John F. Kennedy's signature on Oct. 1, 1962. Kennedy said this observance honors those peace officers who, through their courageous deeds, have lost their lives or have become disabled in the performance of duty. Police Week was first designated in recognition of the service given by the men and women who, night and day, protect us through enforcement of our laws.

Fifty years ago, President Kennedy summoned the American people: "I invite state and local governments, patriotic, civic and educational organizations, and the people of the United States generally to observe Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week in this year and each succeeding year with appropriate ceremonies in which all our people may join in commemorating law enforcement officers, past and present, who by their faithful and loyal devotion to their responsibilities have rendered a dedicated service to their communities, and, in so doing, have established for themselves an enviable and enduring reputation for preserving the rights and security of all citizens."

On May 8 I attended the Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial ceremony at the police academy in Salem. I was blessed to have my 12-year-old son, Donovan, accompany me. He beamed with pride that morning as he donned the shiny silver pin on the collar of his polo shirt, a small seven-tipped star embossed with the words, "Officer Chris Kilcullen - Badge 248 - End of Watch 04/22/11."

As we walked the academy grounds, I watched Donovan's eyes absorb the polished police motorcycles, the crisp American flags, the stoic honor guard, the tired and enduring looks on the survivors' faces. As Donovan looked Eugene Police Chief Pete Kerns in the eyes while administering a firm handshake, I felt my fatherly pride rise.

This was a welcome emotion amid the overwhelming solemnity I was experiencing. As the names were read from the Fallen Officer Roll Call, I gently squeezed my son's leg. He swiftly smiled at me before resuming his reverent gaze. I realized it was his moment to pay tribute to the fallen officers and survivors. At age 12, Donovan got it. It was a teachable moment: That sunny afternoon, with bagpipes echoing in the distance, my boy reminded me what respect is all about.

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