Following an eight-year presidency in which law enforcement officers were under constant assault from the Obama administration, this year for National Police Week, the White House is being bathed in blue light at night.
It's an outward expression of President Donald Trump's appreciation for law enforcement, which he espoused daily during the 2016 election campaign. He further expressed his gratitude Monday by signing a proclamation, and then later with a speech at the National Peace Officers' Memorial Service.
The president's proclamation reads:
During Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week, we honor the men and women of law enforcement who have been killed or disabled in the course of serving our communities. Police officers are the thin blue line whose sacrifices protect and serve us every day, and we pledge to support them as they risk their lives to safeguard ours.
Last year, 118 officers died in the line of duty, and of those, 66 were victims of malicious attacks. These attacks increased by nearly 40 percent from 2015. This must end. That is why one of my first actions was to direct the Department of Justice to develop a strategy to better prevent and prosecute crimes of violence against our Federal, State, tribal and local law enforcement officers.
In addition, my administration will continue to further the efforts of the Department of Justice to improve the lives of law enforcement officers and their families. This includes supporting the Officer Safety and Wellness Group, which improves officer safety on the job, and accelerating the processing of benefits through the Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program, which provides vital resources to the families of fallen officers.
Our liberties depend on the rule of law, and that means supporting the incredible men and women of law enforcement. By a joint resolution approved October 1, 1962, as amended (76 Stat. 676), and by Public Law 103-322, as amended (36 U.S.C. 136 and 137), the President has been authorized and requested to designate May 15 of each year as "Peace Officers Memorial Day" and the week in which it falls as "Police Week."
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 15, 2017, as Peace Officers Memorial Day and May 14 through May 20, 2017, as Police Week. In humble appreciation of our hard-working law enforcement officers, Melania and I will light the White House in blue on May 15. I call upon all Americans to observe Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week with appropriate ceremonies and activities. I also call on the Governors of the States and Territories and officials of other areas subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff on Peace Officers Memorial Day. I further encourage all Americans to display the flag at half-staff from their homes and businesses on that day.
During his speech later in the day, the president told the nation's law enforcement officers that he continues to stand with them.
"Words cannot express the depths of our gratitude, but I hope that our actions will show you how deeply we care and how strongly we feel about protecting those who protect us," he said. "America stands strong with our men and women in blue. Believe me, we stand strong together."
He later added:
"On this Peace Officers' Memorial Day, we thank God for having blessed so many of us with such incredible heroes—and we pledge our solidarity with their families and loved ones. ...
"I want to make all of you remember and heed this promise: I will always support the incredible men and women of law enforcement as much as you have always supported me. ...
"Your presence here reminds us all of what is at stake on this sacred day of remembrance. Each May, during Police Week, new names of fallen police officers are added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial. This year, 394 brave souls join the over 20,000 men and women who gave up their lives in the line of duty to protect us.
"The names of these heroes are not only carved into that wall, but carved into the hearts of the American people. And by the way, the American people love you, more than you will ever know. I can tell you that.
"Though your loved ones left us much too soon, the memory of their courage will live on forever. To see so many names together is to gain only a small glimpse of the debt America owes to those who protect our cities and police on our streets."
The president also noted that the Bible states there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends (John 15:13). He said the names—and the stories behind them—etched into the memorial wall are a testament to "this pure and unselfish love." He said it is the duty of every American to prove worthy of that sacrifice, first by showing police the appreciation they have "earned a thousand times over."
"You are the Thin Blue Line between civilization and chaos," he said. "You come from every community and all walks of life. You are mothers and fathers and sons and daughters. You rush into unknown danger, risking your lives for people you have never met, people you don't know, performing your duty under the most difficult conditions—and often without any thanks at all.
"Because you do not hear [this] nearly enough, I want you to know that patriotic Americans of all backgrounds truly support and love our police.
"And a very sad thing is that many of today's politicians don't want to say that, don't want to talk about that because it's not politically correct or they think it might hurt them with the voters. I will say it and I will talk about it proudly. I will make it the personal priority of my administration to ensure that our police are finally treated fairly, with [the] honor and respect that they deserve.
"To all Americans watching this event today, next time you see a cop on the beat, take a moment to say two wonderful words, which they so readily deserve: 'Thank you.'"
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