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2011 Candlelight Vigil

Remarks from the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

By The Honorable Janet Napolitano, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, May 13, 2011

This evening we light candles to honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, the American people, and our cherished freedoms, values, and way of life.

The names inscribed into these walls were fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, brothers, sisters, friends and colleagues. 

Each served a cause greater than themselves and put their dedication to duty above their own personal safety.  For that, we are forever grateful.

Like all members of law enforcement, these men and women accepted the risks that come with serving as peace officers – risks that our country asks law enforcement at all levels to undertake on our behalf every single day, in ways large and small.

Few of us will ever know the silent acts of bravery and heroism that they – or law enforcement officers across our country – perform in our cities and communities.

We will never know their daily sacrifices and struggles: the long nights and early mornings; the missed holidays and birthdays.

Nor will we ever fully appreciate the pain and loss suffered by the families of the fallen, or the tremendous strength and courage and grace they continue to exhibit in the face of such tragedy.

This evening’s vigil – and National Police Week - is a time for all of us to recognize those contributions and sacrifices.  It is a time to reflect on all that we ask of law enforcement, and all that law enforcement provides in return, with no expectation of recognition or reward.

It is also a time to rededicate ourselves to the cause for which these fallen officers served – the protection of our country, upholding the rule of law, and the pursuit of justice.

Nearly ten years after 9/11, our nation is stronger and more prepared to confront the range of threats we face.  But we know those threats have evolved and we must continue to do all we can to keep our nation and the American people safe.

Law enforcement at all levels remain on the frontlines of this effort, and we will continue to call on you to share information, maintain vigilance, and guard against extremism, as you have done over the past ten years.

Thank you for your service, and for carrying forward the work of the fallen officers that we honor this evening.  The most fitting tribute that we can provide for them is making sure their legacy continues – today and in the future.