I will always remember Vivian Eney—a passionate woman, with a powerful speaking presence. And tragically, a widow.
It was Vivian who first helped me understand how much a simple expression of condolence can mean to the loved ones of officers who make the ultimate sacrifice. I realized then how meaningful a lasting tribute—a national monument with their loved one's name inscribed—would be to a survivor.
On October 15, 1991, thanks in part to Vivian’s leadership, we dedicated the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, with nearly 12,600 names of fallen heroes engraved on the marble walls. Among those names was Vivian’s late husband, Christopher Eney, a sergeant with the United States Capitol Police, who was killed in a training accident in August 1984. Vivian was among a handful of leaders who helped turn the dream of this national monument into a reality. She was the deciding voice in favor of the lion statues, beautifully sculpted by Ray Kaskey, that adorn the entrances of the Memorial. And, of course, it is her poignant quote on the Memorial walls that has explained to millions of visitors the essence of this monument:
It is not how these officers died that made them heroes, it is how they lived.
When Motorola Solutions approached us about bringing to life the meaning of duty, we jumped at the chance. Those of us at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund often hear the stories of heroes who have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. Every time I walk by the Memorial and see the names of the thousands of officers who have lost their lives protecting our citizenry, I am reminded that duty truly does run deep.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has held countless ceremonies and events that raise the public awareness of law enforcement in our country—especially those who have fallen in the line of duty. From Candlelight Vigils to intimate wreathlayings to 5K run and walk events, the Memorial is open and accessible to all every day of the year. As Vivian so eloquently shared, it is a place where survivors, colleagues, and friends can visit and remember their officer.
Yet, as we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, we continue our efforts to bring comfort and support to those who have lost a loved one. And we know that our work to fulfill our mission does not end there. In fact, that’s only the start. We also aspire to protect the officers who put on the uniform every day by promoting safety and wellness. We partner with a variety of organizations to raise awareness of the everyday dangers in an officer’s life, while providing information and resources designed to improve their safety as they conduct their work to keep the citizens in our communities safe. We issue Law Enforcement Fatalities Reports to identify trends and key indicators of specific areas where the law enforcement community can focus to improve officer safety. And we notify subscribers through our Recently Fallen Alerts when we learn of officer fatalities across the country.
And, now, construction is well underway on the National Law Enforcement Museum that will finally and fully tell the story of American law enforcement. The Museum will open in 2018, and when it does, millions of visitors will learn what it’s like to be a law enforcement officer. Through high-tech interactive exhibits, a comprehensive collection of artifacts, extensive resources for research, and diverse educational programming, the Museum will help bridge the gap between law enforcement and the communities they serve by giving visitors a better understanding of a day in the life of an officer.
As we commemorate the Memorial’s 25th anniversary this month, we remember the now 20,789 names engraved on the sacred walls. Each one was a hero who sacrificed their life for our safety. We will continue to honor them and their families. They are fallen, but never forgotten.
Craig W. Floyd is the President and CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, an organization dedicated to honoring and remembering the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers in the United States.
Post your stories on what duty means to you, using the hashtag #dutyrunsdeep and the Motorola Solutions Foundation will donate $1 to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Learn more at motorolasolutions.com/dutyrunsdeep