May 11, 2005

IN VALOR THERE IS HOPE

Guest opinion submitted by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

In Washington, D.C., among the granite monoliths, bronze statues and marble columns commemorating people and events throughout our nationâ??s 230-year history, some of the most compelling commemorations can be found off the beaten track. At the Judiciary Square Metro stop, you will find the National Law Enforcement Memorial, a beautiful and solemn courtyard amidst the tangle of office buildings, people and traffic that constitute the capital of the worldâ??s most powerful nation. The memorial is a tangible reminder of our domestic defense force, nearly 900,000 strong, that stands ready 24 hours a day to protect our homes, schools and communities.The first recorded incident of an American police officer killed in the line of duty happened in 1792. Since that time, 16,500 officers have died in the course of their job, and more than 50 have been Idahoans. Anyone who has witnessed a law enforcement funeral procession can tell you how stirring, sad and somber such a tribute is to a fallen officer. In fact, the wailing sirens pierce the air and the heart similar to the bagpipes played at the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial during their annual ceremony in Washington, D.C.May 15-21 is National Police Week, celebrated since 1962. On May 13, bagpipes sounded once again as new names were engraved in the Memorial--loved ones lost defending our freedom here at home. One hundred sixty-four officers are killed on average every year and each year, their names are added to the low marble walls. The memorial, inscribed with the words â??in valor there is hope,â?? is remarkable in its simplicity and gravity. Flowers accent the blue-gray marble and bronze lions guard the courtyard. The lions stand vigil for a reason: â??leoâ?? part of the scientific name for lion is also an acronym for Law Enforcement Officer. Taped to the wall are photos, newspaper articles, notes and flowers left for a loved one gone forever. Particularly compelling are the notesâ??in a young childâ??s handwriting, a penciled note below a rubbing of womanâ??s name bears the words, â??I love you mom, Love Faith.â?? Idaho has a similar monument recognizing fallen officers. The Idaho Peace Officers Memorial located in Meridian has bricks engraved with the names of Idaho officers killed in the line of duty, dating back to 1883. The 2005 two-day remembrance included a ceremony at the Memorial on May 13 and a motorcycle ride from Coeur dâ??Alene to Post Falls on May 14. In Idaho, there are 2,302 sworn officers and over 5,000 total, including reserve, non-sworn and detention officers. This formidable force protects families, homes and communities across Idaho. They face danger every day. Every day, a situation can take a turn for the worse--the names engraved in stone in Idaho, Washington, D.C., and in states across the nation testify to the perils of law enforcement. And for every name, there are many more injured--people like Coeur dâ??Alene police officer Michael Kralicek, recovering from serious injuries he received in a gun battle this past December. North Idaho is safer because of his selfless actions.This week and throughout the year, thank the officers that serve your community. Their dedication, bravery and commitment to the law give us peace of mind that we tend to take for granted. Their job is to preserve that peace, and they deserve our immense gratitude and respect. These men and women are heroes every day. REMEMBERRemember all the fallen men,who gave their lives for you.Remember all the sweating,all the work they had to do.Remember all the blood they spilled,all the crying and the pain.Remember all the late nights,in the snow and in the rain.Remember how they kept the peace,in good times and in bad.Remember they protected you,and given all they had.Remember times are changing and people are changing too.Remember all the fallen men and that they died for you.-A tribute to fallen officers written by the 15-year-old daughter of an Idaho officer