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Thank you Craig. Good Evening. I am honored to have the privilege of representing America's Police Survivors.
We are the families, friends and coworkers of law enforcement officers and deputies whose lives have been taken from us in the line of duty.
This year COPS - Concerns of Police Survivors is celebrating 20 years of service. Under the guidance of COPS' founder Suzie Sawyer and the many survivor volunteers, COPS has evolved into America's source for police survivor help.
COPS has grown to serve over 13,000 families, with 46 chapters across the United States. Recently, the COPS model went international. COPS now has an affiliate in the United Kingdom, called UK COPS. Many UK COPS members and bobbies are here tonight.
Eleven years ago, I was eight weeks pregnant with our second child. It was Mother's Day morning when I received the dreaded knock on my door. I was told Kent had been shot and killed. What was to be a celebration breakfast after Kent's graveyard shift, turned out to be the start of a huge tragedy, which would forever change my life, my childrens' lives and the lives of all who knew Kent.
The following year, I attended National Police Week. I attended the many COPS seminars and met many police survivors who had lost their officer in prior years. I learned - I was not alone. Just listening to these other survivors gave me hope that I too, in time, could make it.
I came to this wonderful memorial and attended this special vigil. Witnessing the participation of the thousands of law enforcement officers reassured me that Kent's sacrifice and the sacrifice of his family would never be forgotten.
To the surviving families, friends and co-workers here tonight. We know how difficult your lives have become. We know the pain you are experiencing.
There is hope… There is help… Reach out to COPS - We are here for you. We are here to help you rebuild your shattered lives. For, we, too, have walked in your shoes and have taken the helping hand of survivors from the past.
Take our hand and let us help you climb out of that deep pit of pain and grief. What happened to us can't be changed, but the outcome can.
To the thousands of officers, administrators and friends of law enforcement. We thank you for being here tonight and showing your support. It proves to us that you still remember your promise - to never forget.
Every police survivor is truly grateful for your being here.
In a while, when you light your candle, look around. Next to you may be a surviving parent, a brother, sister, a spouse or surviving child. You may see surviving friends and co-workers. Each of them has suffered a unique loss.
Let the light of these candles and the love of those holding them serve as a beacon of hope and of healing. With one or two candles lit, we see little light. The wind may blow and extinguish the flame. With thousands of candles glowing, we see radiant light, we can find our way. If a candle goes out, there are many to reach for in order to restore our fire.
I ask each of you to remember this night. Remember our unity. For when one stumbles another is there to help.
May God bless each of you and may He give you strength.