National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day by Jeff Olson
May is a month full of special times – such as proms, high school and college graduations, the beginning of vacation season, and the Memorial Day observance. However, May is also the month in which a perhaps lesser-known day is set aside for a very special observance and one which I believe is every bit as important as Memorial Day: National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day.
On October 1, 1962 President John Kennedy signed Public Law 87-726, a joint resolution of the 87th Congress, designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week. The resolution reads in-part: “…Whereas these officers have safeguarded the lives and property of their fellow Americans: and Whereas by the enforcement of our laws, these same officers have given our country internal freedom from fear of the violence and civil disorder that is presently affecting other nations: Whereas these men and women by their patriotic service and their dedicated efforts have earned the gratitude of the republic: Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that the President is authorized and requested to issue proclamations designating May 15 of each year as Peace Officers Memorial Day in honor of the Federal, State, and municipal officers who have been killed or disabled in the line of duty.”
This law was amended by Congress as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. President Bill Clinton signed Public Law 103-322, a joint resolution of the 103rd Congress, which directs that the flag of the United States on all Government buildings be displayed at half-staff each year on May 15. On this day, may we pay tribute to all fallen officers and honor those who are still laying their lives on the line daily for the cause of law, order and justice, without which society would decay into chaos and ultimately into anarchy and tyranny.
On this occasion, and when any opportunity presents itself, be sure to extend a heart-felt “thank you” to one (or more) of our law enforcement officers. Lest we forget, the strongest bastion of America’s freedom is rooted in the strength and bonds of families and other institutions within the civil/social order of local communities. The protection and preservation of these depend upon the men and women who serve you and me proudly each and every day, in and out of uniform faithfully, diligently and courageously.