LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
With black bands over their badges and red roses in their hands, law enforcement officers from the California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles County Sheriffs, Port of Los Angeles, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and various South Bay police departments joined the 61st Security Forces Squadron at the 2018 National Police Week’s Day of Remembrance, held in the Schriever courtyard of the Space and Missile Systems Center.
"Today, we celebrate police officers who have walked the ‘Thin Blue Line’ – those currently serving, and those taken from us too soon," said Maj. Taylor Reynolds, commander of the 61st Security Forces Squadron at Los Angeles Air Force Base. "In the words of the great general, George Patton, ‘It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived’."
One by one, police officers came forward to place a red rose into a white memorial wreath, gently positioned by the Port of Los Angeles Police Honor Guard between flags flown at half-staff, and a pair of boots with upended rifle, topped by a Kevlar helmet, signifying a fallen peace officer as a bugler sounded "Taps" near the Schriever Monument and Wall of Honor.
"While the red rose has often been seen as a symbol of love, the Greeks and Romans believe the red rose also represented devotion and sacrifice," said Anthony Coyle, 61st SFS Antiterrorism Program Manager. "Let the red rose we place here today be in loving memory of the brothers and sisters lost in the line of duty. Let every rose represent both the devotion they show while wearing the badge, and the sacrifice they made in giving their life for it."
In addition to the wreath laying ceremony honoring seven California police officers, nine Department of Defense officers, 12 Security Forces members and 16 Special Agents who have made the ultimate sacrifice, law enforcement displays of police and tactical vehicles, defensive and assault weapons and gear, K9 detection demonstrations of suspicious packages or illicit contraband and a "Burger burn" were held in the courtyard.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed Public Law 87-726 declaring May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day. Since then, law enforcement officials across the nation gather to pay respect to police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
"Four years ago, I was privileged to work in a building named after one of our fallen. For three years, Helton Hall would be my home away from home and I would be reminded every day of the sacrifices paid in blood by 1st Lt. Joseph Helton and many just like him," said Reynolds.
"During this time, I was lucky enough to have interaction with his family on our yearly remembrance run. It wasn’t until that moment that I fully understood the importance of the families that stand behind the men and women of law enforcement and the impact celebrations just like this one truly have on those that stand by our sides. Every day, a husband, a wife, a parent or a sibling has to watch their family member walk out the door and wonder if they are coming home tonight. Very few professions carry that burden."