ROBERT A. BOX Re­mem­ber our of­fi­cers by wear­ing blue on May 15

The Weekly Vista - - Religion - Robert Box is the for­mer chap­lain for the Bella Vista Po­lice De­part­ment and is cur­rently the fire de­part­ment chap­lain. Opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the au­thor.

In 1962, Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy signed Pub­lic Law 87-726 des­ig­nat­ing May 15 as Peace Of­fi­cers’ Me­mo­rial Day, and each year there is a me­mo­rial ser­vice, as well as other events dur­ing that week in Wash­ing­ton D.C., spon­sored by Con­cerns of Po­lice Sur­vivors or COPS. This year, the event will be ob­served the week of May 10-16.

This law was later amended by Pres­i­dent Clin­ton in 1994, di­rect­ing that the flag of the United States be dis­played at half-staff on all govern­ment build­ings on May 15 each year.

Each year, our na­tion loses be­tween 140 and 160 law-en­force­ment of­fi­cers in the line of duty, and a spe­cial Me­mo­rial Ser­vice is held, rec­og­niz­ing by name, each of those fallen of­fi­cers. In ad­di­tion, ca­nine of­fi­cers who were killed in the line of duty also are now rec­og­nized. The me­mo­rial ser­vice this year will be held on May 13, be­gin­ning at 8 p.m. As in the past, this ser­vice fea­tures a can­dle­light vigil hosted by the Na­tional Law En­force­ment Of­fi­cers Me­mo­rial Fund. Sur­vivors who have at­tended in the past agree that this is one of the most mov­ing ser­vices they have ever ex­pe­ri­enced.

The week-long ob­ser­vance in­cludes break­fast, lunch, guest speak­ers, de­brief­ing ses­sions and a Kids/Teens pro­gram for the sur­viv­ing chil­dren and sib­lings of the fallen of­fi­cers. It closes with a pic­nic-on-the-pa­tio night where din­ner is pro­vided with games, mu­sic and more. It is the con­clu­sion of a stress­ful week.

Dur­ing the week of May 10-16, peo­ple sup­port­ing law en­force­ment per­son­nel — es­pe­cially those who have given their lives in the line of duty — are en­cour­aged to ei­ther wear some­thing blue show­ing sup­port or to fly a blue rib­bon from their mail­boxes.

In ad­di­tion, peo­ple are en­cour­aged to find ways to sup­port their law en­force­ment agen­cies. This might in­volve send­ing a let­ter or note of sup­port to your lo­cal po­lice de­part­ment, speak­ing a kind word of en­cour­age­ment to a po­lice of­fi­cer, or per­haps even pick­ing up the tab for an of­fi­cer eat­ing a meal with­out the of­fi­cer even know­ing who did it.

I re­cently rode with a deputy sher­iff from the Ben­ton County Sher­iff’s Of­fice and was joined with sev­eral other deputies for an evening meal at a lo­cal restau­rant. Although no one ex­pected it to hap­pen, when we went to pay for our meals, we dis­cov­ered that they had all been paid for by some­one in the restau­rant who cared enough to do some­thing for the deputies. I can vouch for all of the deputies when I say that this ges­ture was deeply ap­pre­ci­ated. Law En­force­ment of­fi­cers do not ask for dis­counts or free meals, but some­times it hap­pens with­out any ac­tion on their part.

The chap­lains of the Ben­ton County Sher­iff’s Of­fice will be rec­og­niz­ing the var­i­ous law en­force­ment per­son­nel there on May 15 by of­fer­ing them recog­ni­tion, some­thing to eat, and a prayer to send them on their way. It is our way of say­ing “Thanks” to those we rou­tinely work with.

I am sure that other law en­force­ment de­part­ments will be do­ing the same thing. And, while not com­pletely in the same venue, many com­mu­ni­ties will be host­ing a Mayor’s Prayer Break­fast to also re­mem­ber law-en­force­ment and fire-de­part­ment per­son­nel and other pub­lic of­fi­cials dur­ing this spe­cial time of the year.

A large num­ber of our law-en­force­ment per­son­nel have given their lives in the line of duty this year, and I of­fer my prayers of sup­port for their sur­vivors and friends. I en­cour­age you to do the same.

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