In many ways, the National Police Week Memorial Service, held each May outside the Law Enforcement Center, is the same each year: the invocation and opening remarks, reading of the poem “A Part of America Died,” flag ceremony, playing of “Taps” and placing of a wreath.
But there is one big difference at each year’s service: there are new numbers and new names to be read aloud — the names of Texas law enforcement and corrections officers killed in the line of duty.
At the service Tuesday morning, sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Bird read the names of 16 Texas officers who lost their lives in 2017. Those names were not read at last year’s service — because those officers were alive then.
The service began with law enforcement officers from multiple agencies, their families and other guests spread out across the front of the sprawling Law Enforcement Center. Assistant Brownwood Police Chief James Fuller thanked guests for attending “this somber moment.”
Fuller’s boss, Police Chief Terry Nichols, recounted the history of Peace Officers Memorial Day, which began when President Kennedy designated May 15 as that day.
“Events are held across the United States throughout the second week of May to honor fallen pace officers,” Nichols said. “It is a chance for those of us who wear the uniform to come together to recognize and remember our fallen brothers and sisters who shared our calling.”
It’s also a chance for citizens to step forward and “recognize their sacrifices, as well as the sacrifices these men and women here today are willing to make,” Nichols said. “This is a sacred week for the law enforcement profession.”
Nichols recounted the numbers for 2017: 135 peace officers killed in the line of duty in 2017, including 16 in Texas — most in the nation.
So far this year, 53 officers have lost their lives across the nation, Nichols said.
“Each day, men and women who have committed their lives to serving their community put on a badge, say goodbye to their loved ones and go to work,” Nichols said.
While not all wear the same color uniform, all have one thing in common, he said. “They’ve all taken the oath to protect their communities and are willing to lay down their lives to fulfill that simple oath,” Nichols said. “While we sleep peacefully, you can rest assured there are men and women out there patrolling the streets, looking out for you an your loved ones.”