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2008 Candlelight Vigil

Welcoming Remarks

By Craig W. Floyd, NLEOMF Chairman & CEO, May 13, 2008

They hailed from all corners of the country — from places named Walla Walla, Winston-Salem and Washington, DC. From Clay City and Clayton County — St. Louis and Saint Tammany Parish — and from cities and towns — large and small — across this great nation.

Whether it was their age, ethnic heritage, or the uniform they wore, they were all different in many ways. Yet, they shared a common bond of extraordinary service and supreme sacrifice.

And now, they also share a common place of honor here on these hallowed grounds of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

Tonight, we will formally dedicate 358 new additions to these marble walls that embrace us. One hundred and eighty-one of those fallen heroes lost their lives in the performance of duty in 2007. It was the second deadliest year for the law enforcement profession in the last two decades.

The other 177 new names belong to heroes who had slipped through the cracks of history. They had been forgotten about by their communities and their nation, until tonight. With their names now inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, they will be forgotten no more.

Their inspiring stories of service and sacrifice will be told each and every day here at the National Memorial, and at a new National Law Enforcement Museum that is scheduled to open right across the street in 2011.

They are indeed in good company. They will be joining the likes of law enforcement legends like Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit. On November 22, 1963, Officer Tippit had just finished having lunch at home with his wife, Marie, and was back on patrol when the radio call went out. President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. Moments later, it was Officer J.D. Tippit, an 11-year police veteran, who first spotted the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, walking along a Dallas sidewalk. When he went to make the arrest, Officer Tippit was shot four times and died on the way to the hospital, leaving behind his wife and three young children.

Yesterday I had the privilege of welcoming his wife, Marie, here to the Memorial for her first visit since her husband's death 45 years ago. Tonight, she honors us with her presence on the dais and I would like her to stand and let us remind her that Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit and his family have not been forgotten.