Each May during National Police Week, new names are added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial walls.
In 2013, the names of 321 officers who died in the line of duty during the previous calendar year, as well as officers who were killed earlier in history but whose line-of-duty sacrifices only recently came to light, are being added to the Memorial.
The Unveiling Day ceremony is an event held each spring to symbolically commemorate the service and sacrifice of all of the men and women who have given their lives for the safety and protection of others.
In 2010, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial walls and grounds underwent a $1.1M restoration project. As part of the restoration, engravers Kirk Bockman and Jim Lee employ a new method that prevents the paint used to stain the names from fading. The new process for engraving and staining the names changes the way in which the names are engraved and readied for viewing:
After a lengthy stencil and proofing process, a line of names is cut into the stone.
The first application of the Silin stain is applied to the freshly-engraved names to give each letter the necessary color uniformity. This line will be covered and cure for 24-36 hours.
The final application of the Silin stain is applied to the names. This line is again covered and cured for 24-36 hours before final inspection by engravers.
The new procedure is more complex and requires that after each panel is engraved, it is stained twice and then be allowed to cure for at least 72 hours (weather permitting). The panels cannot be exposed to the elements, nor can rubbings be done until the panel is completely cured.
Our goal is to ensure that each name on the Memorial is engraved with the utmost care to ensure the integrity of each name is forever maintained. Memorial maintenance is vitally important to us and the new process is designed to ensure our nation’s monument to law enforcement service and sacrifice remains a place of honor, dignity and beauty.
All newly engraved names are formally dedicated on the Memorial during the Annual Candlelight Vigil on the evening of May 13, part of the National Police Week observance. Approximately 20,000 people attend the event each year. In addition, the vigil is videocast live over the Internet, allowing family members, colleagues and others who cannot make it to Washington, DC, to experience the ceremony in their communities.