Peace Officers Memorial Day

On May 15, the United States celebrates Peace Officers Memorial Day, which honors police officers and those who have lost their life during their efforts. The day is celebrated during Police Week. Federal, state, and local officers are honored on this day. The day is also set aside to spread crime awareness and education for citizens to help protect themselves from crime.

The main tradition is to hold tribute to officers who have died while in the line of duty, around 140-160 officers each year. Many programs give support to the families left behind. Flags lower in remembrance and memorial ceremonies are held by some police departments or police officer groups.

The most visible memorial service is organized by the Fraternal Order of Police and its Auxiliary. Thousands of observers gather at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C., where a wreath-laying service is held after the ceremony.

Holiday Background

President Kennedy signed the bill that established Peace Officer Memorial Day on October 1, 1961 after a proposal from congress. The President issues a proclamation each year to call for commemoration of the holiday asking citizens to fly flags at half-staff and to hold ceremonies and remembrances.

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