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In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed Public Law 87-726 designating May 15 as Peace Officers' Memorial Day, and each year there is a memorial service, as well as other events during that week in Washington D.C., sponsored by Concerns of Police Survivors or COPS. This year, the event will be observed the week of May 10-16.

This law was later amended by President Clinton in 1994, directing that the flag of the United States be displayed at half-staff on all government buildings on May 15 each year.

Each year, our nation loses between 140 and 160 law-enforcement officers in the line of duty, and a special Memorial Service is held, recognizing by name, each of those fallen officers. In addition, canine officers who were killed in the line of duty also are now recognized. The memorial service this year will be held on May 13, beginning at 8 p.m. As in the past, this service features a candlelight vigil hosted by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Survivors who have attended in the past agree that this is one of the most moving services they have ever experienced.

The week-long observance includes breakfast, lunch, guest speakers, debriefing sessions and a Kids/Teens program for the surviving children and siblings of the fallen officers. It closes with a picnic-on-the-patio night where dinner is provided with games, music and more. It is the conclusion of a stressful week.

During the week of May 10-16, people supporting law enforcement personnel -- especially those who have given their lives in the line of duty -- are encouraged to either wear something blue showing support or to fly a blue ribbon from their mailboxes.

In addition, people are encouraged to find ways to support their law enforcement agencies. This might involve sending a letter or note of support to your local police department, speaking a kind word of encouragement to a police officer, or perhaps even picking up the tab for an officer eating a meal without the officer even knowing who did it.

I recently rode with a deputy sheriff from the Benton County Sheriff's Office and was joined with several other deputies for an evening meal at a local restaurant. Although no one expected it to happen, when we went to pay for our meals, we discovered that they had all been paid for by someone in the restaurant who cared enough to do something for the deputies. I can vouch for all of the deputies when I say that this gesture was deeply appreciated. Law Enforcement officers do not ask for discounts or free meals, but sometimes it happens without any action on their part.

The chaplains of the Benton County Sheriff's Office will be recognizing the various law enforcement personnel there on May 15 by offering them recognition, something to eat, and a prayer to send them on their way. It is our way of saying "Thanks" to those we routinely work with.

I am sure that other law enforcement departments will be doing the same thing. And, while not completely in the same venue, many communities will be hosting a Mayor's Prayer Breakfast to also remember law-enforcement and fire-department personnel and other public officials during this special time of the year.

A large number of our law-enforcement personnel have given their lives in the line of duty this year, and I offer my prayers of support for their survivors and friends. I encourage you to do the same.

• • •

Robert Box is the former chaplain for the Bella Vista Police Department and is currently the fire department chaplain. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Religion on 05/09/2018

Print Headline: The Chaplain's Perspective Remember our officers by wearing blue

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