To serve and protect. Words that are well known around the United States, but what and who do they represent? As a citizen, those words meant nothing more than seeing a police officer standing on the corner of an intersection simply “observing” the area they were assigned to. “My tax dollars are going towards this?” Thoughts that have crossed the minds of millions of Americans throughout the years. Watching groups of police officers gather nonchalantly, laughing and having a good time. “They should be doing their job, patrolling the streets, arresting someone, giving a ticket. Who do they think they are?”
On May 12, 2023 in Washington, DC, I had the honor to attend the last day celebration of the Police Unity Tour. A four-day bicycle ride from New Jersey to Washington, DC to raise public awareness about law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty and to ensure their dedication and their sacrifice will never be forgotten. Waiting for the Officers to arrive, I walked through the Law Enforcement Memorial, reading the engraved names and reflecting on the sacrifice each officer made, an intense sense of gratitude and respect swept over me. It was a reminder of the risks law enforcement officers face daily to protect our communities. I watched, with friends and family of fallen officers, as over 2500 cyclists reached the end of their 300 mile journey to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice. There was laughter, clapping, congratulating, but there were also tears, bicyclists and overseers overcome with emotion. They were the definition of dedication, resilience, and unwavering support.
The tribute did not stop there. May 13, 2023 thousands of law enforcement officers from across the nation gathered in front of the Capitol, alongside friends and family of the fallen. 556. Five hundred fifty six officers who will never be able to laugh, kiss a loved one, enjoy precious moments with their family and at what cost? Saving a complete stranger? Stopping an enraged citizen? The names of the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice were read aloud, their stories echoing through the crowd. The sound of an eerie bell ringing after every state was announced. I thought to myself, who were these individuals? What were they like? Why did they feel the need to put their lives on the line for everyone else….yet not for themselves? Standing there among thousands of people, united in grief and support, the flames of the candles illuminating the night, symbolizing our united remembrance and respect for fallen law enforcement officers, I was humbled to witness this solidarity.
On May 15, 2023, I had the opportunity to visit the National Law Enforcement Museum and I was struck by its grandeur. The museum combines interactive exhibits, captivating displays, and informative narratives to create an immersive experience for citizens like myself. Its ability to tell the stories of law enforcement officers and their remarkable acts of resilience was remarkable. The highlight of my visit was the museum’s interactive exhibits. These hands-on experiences allowed me to step into the shoes of law enforcement officers, gaining an understanding of their daily tasks and the issues they face. From undercover operations to decision-making scenarios, these interactive displays immersed me in the world of law enforcement, allowing me to give appreciation for the demanding nature of their work.
I left Washington, DC with a transformed respect for the men and women who dedicate their lives to strangers. I left with a commitment to their ongoing effort to create safer communities. I encourage everyone to embark on this enlightening weekend filled with raw emotion and gain a newfound appreciation for the courage and dedication of those who uphold the law. Those who CHOOSE to serve and protect.
Written by Nikki Myers, MdE, Inc.