Every May, those of us in the law enforcement community and those who support us join together to remember and honor our fallen officers. At ceremonies in our local communities, at the State Capitol in Sacramento and at the National Peace Officers Memorial Day in Washington, D.C., we take a moment of silence and then add the names of our fallen brothers and sisters to memorials, vowing to always remember their sacrifices. In California, we will be adding to our state memorial in Sacramento the names of eight officers who died in the line of duty in 2018. Eight officers who, in their dedicated service to their communities, gave their lives to protect us and our families.
We honor our fallen officers in somber, tradition-filled ceremonies each May because we want to recognize their ultimate sacrifices and remember their lives. Whether we are attending these ceremonies to honor a fallen friend and partner or whether we are standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who have, May is always an important time in our law enforcement family. It is an opportunity for us to reflect on our own lives and a time to remember the lives of both our recent and past fallen officers.
Last year in the United States, 158 officers were lost in the line of duty. One hundred and fifty-eight officers who did not return home to their families. One hundred and fifty-eight families who lost their loved one. One hundred and fifty-eight departments who lost a brother or sister officer. One hundred and fifty-eight gaps left in our communities. Each of these fallen officers were individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice and their death leaves a void in their department, in their community and in their family.
As we all look back on our careers, many of us have crossed paths with individuals whose names are included on the walls and memorials in our communities, states and nation. We have pledged in the past to never forget their sacrifices. Take time this month, as we honor our newly fallen, to also remember those whom we have lost in the past. Find ways to honor their memories by giving service to others. Many organizations could use your support. State and local memorial groups help us remember the fallen. Survivor service groups like Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) allow us to serve the surviving families and co-workers. Peer support and chaplaincy programs allow us to serve the mental and spiritual health of affected co-workers. Countless community groups allow you to serve families, children and members of your local community. Find an opportunity to serve in memory of those who have gone before us.
Our law enforcement community is full of amazing and wonderful people — men and women willing to lay down their lives to protect their communities. Their stories of bravery and service continue to amaze me. Don’t let their story die with you. Find ways to preserve and share their story with the next generation. Also, find ways to honor their memory through continued service to your community, your family and your fellow officers.