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2008 Wreathlaying Ceremony

Remarks on Behalf of Survivors

By Jennifer Thacker, National President, Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), October 15, 2008

Good afternoon. It is truly an honor and a privilege for me to be a part of this wreath laying ceremony and to have the opportunity to speak to you this afternoon.

Thank you, Craig Floyd, for inviting me to take part in this Annual Wreathlaying, observing the dedication, 17 years ago, of the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial.

While preparing to speak to you today, it occurred to me that 17 years ago, in October of 1991, when this beautiful memorial was first dedicated and I was attending college in Kentucky, I had not yet met the man with whom I would fall in love, get married, and share the joy of the birth of our child. I had not yet met the man who lived his life in service, serving Thanksgiving dinner at the homeless shelter, serving in the US Army during the first Gulf War, then serving his home state of Kentucky as a law enforcement officer.

I had not yet met the man who would ultimately give his life in service to his community at the young age of 27 and whose name would be added to this National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall.

And then I also became very conscious of the fact that unlike most memorials in our nation, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial will never be completed. Each year names have been and will be added to this wall. Names of sons and daughters, husbands and wives, moms and dads, brothers and sisters. Names of people who were loved and who loved.

Each year, the work and mission of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund continues. The need is ongoing as, on average, 140-160 law enforcement officers are killed in the line of duty each year, and each year their precious names need be added to this reverent wall of honor.

With every officer who dies in the line of duty, there is an estimated 12 people who are directly and adversely affected by their death. That's nearly 2000 people each year who are forced into the throws of traumatic grief following a line of duty death of a law enforcement officer.

Working in concert with the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, Concerns of Police Survivors also has a mission that is ongoing and ever growing. A mission serving the living memorials, such as my daughter and me and many of you here today, helping to rebuild the shattered lives of the surviving families and co-workers of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

Both founded in 1984 Concerns of Police Survivors and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial work in tandem to honor law enforcement's supreme sacrifice.

I will always remember the first time I saw my husband's name carved in this memorial. Initially, I was unable to approach the wall where his name is carved, my grief and pain was too much of a barrier. Eventually and with support, I was able to sit close to his name, tracing each letter of his name with my finger.

While the pain and agony for survivors does not end when their officers name is engraved on this wall, being here does provide us with the assurance that these men and women whose names drape this memorial, their courage, commitment, service, and their ultimate sacrifice will not be forgotten.

If these walls could speak to us today, I imagine they would speak words of humble thankfulness for recognizing their sacrifice. I also am certain they would ask that we recognize and care for their loved ones, their family, their friends, their comrades. I imagine they would say "Thank you for the assurance my sacrifice will not be forgotten. Please assure me that my family's sacrifice and their grief will not be forgotten either."

In closing, I would like to share two quotes of wisdom that I believe we can all learn from:

Samuel Johnson, an English scholar from the 1700's said "Memory is the mother of all wisdom."

It is invaluable for Americans to remember these fallen heroes who have sacrificed so much to protect our way of life and keep us safe. It is imperative that Americans also understand their selfless service and continue to appreciate our Peacemakers, our law enforcement officers. This memorial helps to preserve that memory and create that wisdom and understanding.

And finally, a quote by Pericles, a leader in Athens Greece in 400 BC who is known for advancing democracy.

He said, "What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others."

We are the living memorials, the living storytellers of our officers. Because they wove themselves through us with their love, they will live on within us. We must never forget their sacrifice, and the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial assures us America never will.

We must also honor their sacrifice by never forgetting the living memorials whose burden is great. Concerns of Police Survivors assures us the living memorials are not forgotten by providing the resources and support vital for rebuilding their shattered lives.

It's because of the support of Concerns of Police Survivors that I have learned to live again and am able to stand before you today representing law enforcement survivors nationwide. I believe my life now is a wonderful testament and memorial to my husband, Brandon, and I believe that he is smiling down on me now.

Thank you.

May God bless and enrich your live.