Annual Vigil for Fallen Officers

For the past 26 years, thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world have gathered at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. to honor their fallen brethren with a candlelit vigil. The vigil marks the official dedication of new inscriptions on the walls of a memorial that already bear the names of more than 20,000 dedicated officers.

This year, the names of 286 peace officers, including 100 who died in 2013, were carved into stone. They join a growing fraternity of heroic men and women who have given their lives to protect their communities.

U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. addressed the valor of these men and women in remarks to the more than 20,000 in attendance by saying that “across this great country and throughout our history, America’s law enforcement officers have come to stand for all that every citizen should aspire to be.”

While his remarks were lengthy and paid tribute not only to the memories of fallen heroes, but also the loved ones they left behind, the evening can be summarized by a few short lines:

“Together, we mourn them as individuals of unmistakable integrity, unshakable character, and infinite kindness.  They gave much and asked little.  And tonight, in this place of honor and remembrance, they are surrounded by many who knew them, loved them, and traveled from across the country to mark their losses.”


Officers stand guard as survivors make their way to their seats.


Officers coordinate honor guard processions at the 2014 National Police Week Vigil.


A plain clothes officer kneels over the National Law Enforcement Memorial prior to the vigil.


An honor guard prepares to take their place at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C.


Representatives from the New Jersey State Police move into formation.


University Police Officers walk through barricades at the National Law Enforcement Memorial.


A New Jersey State Patrolman breaks formation to look back at the crowd forming around him.


The black band wrapped around an officer’s badge indicates a period of mourning.


New York State Troopers assemble to pay their respects.


Shined boots of state troopers, a staple of the police uniform.


An honor guard makes their way to the National Law Enforcement Memorial.


A police officer uses his phone to snap a photo of the scene around him.


Police officers wrap an American flag as threatening clouds move into the area.


A plain clothes patrolman from Richmond, VA wears a t-shirt from last year’s vigil while searching for the location of a friend’s name on the memorial wall.


A Metropolitan Police Officer directs traffic as threatening clouds move into the area. The ceremony was suspended for an hour and a half.


An officer protects the flame of his candle as the night is illuminated.