Connellsville's police to remember their own

| Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Connellsville Police Department will take time on Monday to remember their deceased fellow officers.

A service begins at 9 a.m. outside of City Hall. Speakers include Fayette County District Attorney Jack Heneks, Pastor Dennis Roser with Trinity Lutheran Church, former police chief and Mayor Charles Matthews and Connellsville Police Chief James Capitos.

Also participating in the ceremony will be American Legion Post 103. The Connellsville Garden Club will donate flowers. Two students from Connellsville Area High School will play Taps.

Along with the public, all retired police officers and all surrounding police departments are invited to attend.

The memorial is part of National Police Week, which runs from Sunday to May 21.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a Presidential Proclamation that set aside May 15 as National Peace Officers' Memorial Day and the week of May 15 as National Police Week, but it wasn't until 20 years later that any police group celebrated that week, according to Concerns of Police Survivors, an organization that helps families who lost an officer in the line of duty.

The first National Peace Officers' Memorial Day Service was held in Washington on May 15, 1982, on Capitol Hill. Only 125 people attended, but the activity proved to be promising.

On the eve of the second memorial service, 10 young widows came to the country's capital and after several hours of open discussion about their new life following the traumatic death of their police officer, the surviving spouses realized they had now become "the bad reminder of law enforcement's ultimate demand."

That caused the first National Police Survivors' Seminar to be held in 1984 and later that year, President Ronald Reagan signed into law legislation that allowed the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund to begin raising money for an appropriate monument in Washington, honoring the fallen law enforcement officers of America.

In 1989, the first annual Candlelight Vigil was held at the site of the soon-to-be constructed National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Judiciary Square in Washington.

In October 1991, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial was dedicated by President George Bush. Today that wall carries the names of more than 16,000 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

While police agencies may have celebrated National Police Week on the local level years ago, today there is a new heightened awareness. Blue ribbons are distributed for law enforcement agencies to tie to their car antennas and the U.S. Congress has passed legislation that allows the flag to be flown at half staff on Sunday.

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