Search for a fallen Law Enforcement Hero.
"Carved on these walls is the story of America, of a continuing quest to preserve both democracy and decency and to protect a national treasure that we call the American Dream." With those words, former President George Herbert Walker Bush, officially commenced the construction of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Now, 15 years later, we continue an important tradition of honoring and remembering those heroes of America for whom this Memorial was established.
Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Memorial's board of directors, who have joined me here on the dais, it is my privilege to welcome all of you here tonight. Our program officially begins this evening with:
His name was John Osborne. He lived in Cleveland with his wife and family, and he was employed as a Watchman by the Cleveland Marshals Office. On a rainy Sunday night, he was walking his beat with his partner when a man with a knife ran out of the shadows and slashed his throat.
Watchman Osborne was given prompt medical attention and it appeared that he might survive. But, infection soon set in, and three days later he was dead. The man who attacked him was drunk out of his mind and had no recollection of his actions, nor could he explain why he might have committed the murder. Like so many other law enforcement officers throughout the ages, John Osborne had simply become a tempting target for a madman's rage.
John Osborne's story is similar to so many others that we recall tonight . . . stories characterized by courageous deeds, a strong sense of purpose, and above all else, supreme sacrifice. But John Osborne also has a unique distinction. Of the 362 new names we officially add to the Memorial tonight, his is the oldest death we so honor. His end of watch was on December 1, 1853, more than 150 years ago. Until Memorial researchers recently learned of his death from Chief Ed Lohn of the Cleveland Police Department, John Osborne's death had been a forgotten footnote of history. But, thanks to this Memorial and its supporters, John Osborne is forgotten no more. Tonight, we proudly welcome him and the 361 others to their proper place of honor, this sacred ground that we call the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Their tragic fate was a life cut short, but their just reward is eternal remembrance in a gathering place for heroes here in our Nation's Capital.
Similar memorials have been built across the landscape of this City. Recently, our Secretary of State, Colin Powell, commented on the special importance of these monuments.
He said, "I do not know or care what terrorists and tyrants make of our monuments to democracy and the memorials we dedicate to our dead. What's important is what the monuments and memorials say to us. They can teach us much about the ideas that unite us in our diversity, the values that sustain us in times of trial, and the dream that inspires generation after generation of ordinary Americans to perform extraordinary acts of service. In short, our monuments and memorials tell us a great deal about America's commitment to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all . . . And," he added, "each life given in the name of liberty is a life that has not been lost in vain."
Throughout history, more than 16,500 brave peace officers have lost their lives for liberty. Tonight, we come to honor them, their families, and all who follow in their footsteps.
And, tonight, as we reflect on the importance of this Memorial and the special people it honors, it is certainly appropriate to recognize the Memorial's founder. Twenty years ago, a law was enacted by the United States Congress to establish the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. The man who authored that law is a New York City police legend. After 23 years of police service, he retired in 1965 as the most decorated officer in the history of the New York City Police Department. He was wounded 10 times in the line of duty.
He went on to serve for 20 years in the United States Congress where he became law enforcement's leading advocate.
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in recognizing the founder of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, former United States Congressman Mario Biaggi.
The greatest tribute to those who have made the supreme sacrifice are the 870,000 officers who now carry on their proud tradition of law enforcement service. We honor all members of the "thin blue line" tonight, past and present.
And, earlier today at a special awards luncheon, we singled out some, who during the past year were honored as our "Officers of the Month," a program we are very proud of here at the Memorial Fund. Many of those officers performed death-defying feats . . . some simply performed ordinary assignments in an extraordinary way . . . all are exceptional examples of law enforcement in America today!
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in a warm round of applause for the Memorial Fund's Officers of the Month for the year 2003.
This is the 16th consecutive year that we have held this "Tribute to America's Thin Blue Line." And, almost without exception, the Attorney General of the United States-the chief law enforcement officer of the land-has been our keynote speaker. Tonight, that cherished tradition continues.
Despite a serious health scare earlier this year, and a time of great challenge to our nation and our leaders, Attorney General John Ashcroft has returned to strengthen us with his words, and we are most grateful.
He is a man of great integrity, courage and compassion. He has devoted his life to public service as a Missouri prosecutor, state attorney general, governor, and United States Senator. And, General, I know I speak for everyone here in saying how glad we are that your health has improved and you are back to duty.
Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to introduce the Attorney General of the United States, John Ashcroft.
This past Sunday, I had the great honor of participating in a kickoff event for the Virginia Chapter of the Police Unity Tour. About 250 police officers and citizen supporters began an annual 300-mile bike ride in support of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. At the same time on Sunday, another group of about 250 riders assembled at "Ground Zero" in New York City and began their trek to Washington, D.C. as part of the Police Unity Tour. The motto of the Police Unity Tour is simple and powerful: "We ride for those who died." They refuse to allow our fallen officers to be forgotten.
Last year, we honored the Police Unity Tour with our Distinguished Service Award. But we have learned that Unity Tour members do not rest of their laurels. So, they came back again this year, and brought with them a check for $500,000, which they presented to the Memorial Fund yesterday. This brought their total contribution to the Memorial Fund over the past eight years to nearly $1.5 million!
At this time, I would like to ask Police Unity Tour founder and president Pat Montuore, along with Harry Phillips, Scott Humphrey, Lenny Gigintino, William Yrice and Mike Madonna to please stand and be recognized as the chief organizers of the Police Unity Tour.
Each year, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund selects an individual or organization who has made a lasting and exceptional contribution to the law enforcement profession and to the Memorial cause. We call it our "Distinguished Service Award" and we are honored to present it at this event, in front of the people who can appreciate the value of this award the most.
I am extremely pleased to announce that this year's award goes to United States Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado. During his distinguished congressional career, including 12 years in the United States Senate and six years in the United States House of Representatives, America's law enforcement officers had no stronger advocate.
Among his many achievements are the annual "Peace Officers Memorial Day" resolution; and the "Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act," which saves police lives by providing federal funds for the purchase of soft body armor.
We are especially proud to honor him tonight for authoring the law to establish a National Law Enforcement Museum right across the street from this Memorial. As a former deputy sheriff, Senator Campbell fully understands the importance of a national museum in honoring and recording law enforcement's vital contributions to our nation.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is for all of these reasons and more, that we now present our 2004 "Distinguished Service Award" to The Honorable Ben Nighthorse Campbell.
Senator, in honor of your award here tonight, I have a special surprise announcement for you and our guests. As you know, Senator, the National Law Enforcement Museum is going to be a first-class visitor destination here in the Nation's Capital and that is an expensive proposition. All of the money will come from privation donations, and our board organizations and many other law enforcement groups have already made significant pledges to the cause.
But, we have been in search of that all important lead corporate gift. And, tonight, I am pleased to announce that we have found it. It is a company with a 65-year record of innovation and leadership in law enforcement communications. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in recognizing Mr. Jim Sarallo and the Motorola Corporation for becoming the lead corporate sponsor and first founding partner of the National Law Enforcement Museum with a commitment of $3 million!
It has been said that this Memorial tells the end of law enforcement's story, but that the Museum we are building will tell the rest of the story.
It is a story that needs to be told. As we walk along the Pathways of Remembrance during National Police Week, we are reminded in poignant fashion of some of those stories . . . stories of lives well lived and lives left behind.
Life is not easy for our police survivors, but hopefully you will find some comfort this week knowing that America cares. You have our prayers, our hugs and our eternal gratitude.
At this time, we would be most honored if all of the survivors here tonight would please rise and let us recognize you for all that you and your loved one have given to keep our nation safe.
Thankfully, the plight of our police survivors is much better today than ever before. Much of the reason for this improvement is an outstanding organization called COPS-the Concerns of Police Survivors, which is celebrating their 20th anniversary this week. During those 20 years, they have assisted tens of thousands of police survivors with their emotional well-being. They have also provided vital training for law enforcement agencies so they can properly respond to line of duty deaths. COPS is one of the founding board members of the Memorial Fund and we are extremely proud of that longstanding association.
It seems only fitting that tonight, in front of so many of the people she has helped, we should recognize the founder of COPS, a very special woman who is also one of the founders and officers of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Ladies and gentlemen, Ms. Suzie Sawyer.
One of those survivors that Suzie and COPS has helped is our next speaker. Her name is Linda Hintergardt Soubirous, and for the past two years, she has served as the national president of the Concerns of Police Survivors.
In 1993, her husband, Kent Hintergardt, a Riverside County, California Sheriff's Deputy, was shot and killed during a domestic disturbance call. The man who shot him had just choked another woman to death. Linda survived that loss and now dedicates much of her life to supporting other family members of officers killed in the line of duty. She is an incredible woman with many God-given gifts that she is now sharing with others.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my privilege to introduce a good friend, the national president of the Concerns of Police Survivors, Linda Hintergardt Subirous.
This Memorial has taught us many lessons. Most of all, we have learned that behind every name on these walls are stories and memories that burn brightly tonight and always-stories that inspire and memories that cannot be extinguished. We will never forget these heroes of America, or what they did.
And, so, as a symbol of that everlasting remembrance, we will now light the Memorial candle. I would like to invite Attorney General Ashcroft and COPS' President Linda Hintergardt Soubirous to please come forward and do the honor. The flame will then be passed to each of you with the help of the trustees of the Concerns of Police Survivors.
"Perhaps Love"-no introduction (performed by Anthony J. King III-survivor of Tanja King, Orlando P.D., 2000)
"Amazing Grace, The Policeman's Tribute"-no introduction (performed by New Jersey State Trooper Thomas J. Cavallo)
Laser light tribute-no introduction.
"Stand Tall America"-no introduction (Detective Randy Snider, Whitehall, Ohio P.D.).
When we dedicated this monument 11 years ago, there were 12,561 names on its marble walls. As a special tribute to those men and women, we read each of their names in a final "Roll Call of Honor." It lasted 24 hours.
Each year since, we have given that same honor to every name that has been added. We continue that tradition tonight with the reading of 362 names that we now officially dedicate. 145 of those officers died in 2003, and 217 were killed in prior years but were only recently discovered by Memorial researchers.
The names will be read by the Memorial's board of directors and other special guests. They will be read in alphabetical order from the state in which they served. At this time, I would like to ask the Attorney General of the United States, John Ashcroft, to begin the "Roll Call of Honor."
May these officers rest in peace, and may they never be forgotten. Please rise for the Retreat of Colors.
Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes our ceremony. We thank you for coming and may God bless all of you and all of America's police officers.