This week marks National Police Week, a time that people across the nation honor the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect their communities.
National Police Week got its start back in 1962 when President John F. Kennedy designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day. His proclamation also designated the week that May 15 falls as Police Week.
“On Peace Officers Memorial Day and throughout Police Week, we express our unending gratitude to our Nation’s law enforcement officers,” President Donald Trump wrote in a proclamation this year. “Those brave men and women selflessly confront danger to protect our families and defend our communities.”
The memorial service for fallen officers started in 1982. In its first year, just over 100 people attended. Now, thousands of law enforcement officers from agencies across the country gather in Washington, DC each year during the week of May 15. Throughout the week, several events are held to honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Dozens of fallen officers from around the United States are named in this year’s roll call, including 14 officers and deputies from Florida.
Among the officers listed in the 2019 roll call is Deputy William Gentry Jr., the Highlands County deputy who was shot and killed last year. Deputy Gentry, an 8-year veteran of the force, was responding to a neighbor dispute in Lake Placid on May 7 when he was shot by a convicted felon. He was rushed to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers where he later died. Thousands of law enforcement officers from across the state of Florida and the country attended his funeral service in Sebring.
In honor of the memorial service on Wednesday, President Trump announced he would be lighting the White House in blue. He also signed a proclamation calling on governors and other officials to direct flags at half-staff on Wednesday.
“I further encourage all Americans to display the flag from their homes and businesses on that day,” he said in his proclamation.
You can learn more about National Police Week on the official website.