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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A blue line that protects us all

On the closing night of my visit to Washington, D.C., we headed to a candlelight vigil at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

The ceremony honors those who lost their lives in the line of duty over the past year, and also those whose deaths have recently been discovered to have occurred in the line of duty.

At the end of the ceremony, officers and dignitaries read the names of 362 people whose names were added to the wall in the past year. According to, which is the website for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 163 officers died in the line of duty in 2011. Thus far this year, 40 officers have died.

Among the more moving moments in the ceremony was when Craig W. Floyd, chairman and CEO of the Fund, paid tribute to law enforcement officers with a presentation that included a blue beam of light that passed from the speakers platform, over the crowd, to a building that houses the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, which is across Fourth Street from the memorial.

The beam is intended to be a symbol for police officers and their patrol, which guards the "thin blue line" between law and anarchy.

"Through your conduct, your commitment, and your compassion for others, you have transformed the think blue line into a vast, unyielding shield of protection that spreads across our nation to communities large and small," Floyd said, as the thin beam opened to form one as wide as the memorial itself.

The crowd gasped as the illusion played out overhead, and it dazzled those on hand with its gripping description of the work that law enforcement does on a daily basis.

Check out some video highlights of the vigil here:

-- Laura Kessel
Twitter: @Lauranh


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