Several years ago, I found myself at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. I didn’t know there was such a memorial. I stumbled upon it during one of my many weekend adventures to the Capital City. It was in my early years of working for Uncle Sam in the D.C. area that I would go on these trips to soak up historic riches in our nation’s hometown. I came across a gold nugget that day.
In a previous chapter in my life, I had worked for my hometown police department for around five years. During that time, there was not one police officer who died in the line of duty. I only remember one shooting where an officer got shot in the leg. It happened during his line of duty, but it was an accident. I think they call it “friendly fire”. He got a lot of ribbing when he came back to work on crutches. But all were relieved he didn’t lose a leg, not to mention his life.
There was only one officer in my hometown who had died in the line of duty and it had happened years before I joined the police department. I was in high school when it happened. I heard about him during my time with the department. Sometimes the subject of him would come up and officers who remembered where they were when it happened would go down a sad memory lane.
The law enforcement memorial features two curving blue-gray marble walls. Carved on these walls are the names of thousands of officers who have been killed in the line of duty throughout U.S. history, dating back to the first known death in 1791. Unlike many other memorials in Washington, DC, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is ever-changing: new names of fallen officers are added to the monument each spring, in conjunction with National Police Week. I can’t help but wish that a spring would come where there were no names to add.
There was a book at the Memorial where you could look up a name and find the location where his/her name was etched on the Memorial Wall. I looked up his name and was relieved that it was there. There were so many names to look through, but then one is too many in this book.
I went to the place where his name was on the wall. I placed my hand on the spot and rubbed my fingers over his name. It seemed the fitting thing to do for a man from my hometown who gave the ultimate. It didn’t matter that I never met him or knew him personally. All that mattered is why his name was on the wall.
If you ever visit Washington, D.C., I’d encourage you to visit this Memorial Wall and look up the names of any fallen from your hometown. Our military protect us from foreign threats. Our local, state, and federal protect us from threats in our own backyard. They deserve our gratitude, especially those who didn’t make it back home one day.
I am thankful to the officer from my hometown, Travis Williams, Mesquite Police Department, Texas.