President Barack Obama paid tribute Saturday on behalf of a grateful nation to law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice while safeguarding their communities.
Americans "rely on a certain order in our lives, a certain security that lets us sleep safely in our beds, walk around our neighborhoods without fear and to go about our daily lives without being a victim of crime. That sense of security doesn't come on its own," he said in brief remarks on the west front lawn of the Capitol during Peace Officers Memorial Day, which honors officers killed in the line of duty.
"What makes it possible, what makes freedom possible, are the law enforcement officials," he said.
The event is part of National Police Week, an annual tribute to law enforcement service and sacrifice.
The president said he was proud of law enforcement officials who chose their careers out of a sense of "a professional responsibility to our wives and husbands, to give our children a better chance at life."
Obama spoke of a higher calling that motivated these officers to protect people and to fulfill that mission every day despite the uncertainty of what that next duty call might bring.
"Everyday people go about their lives, they wake up, sit down for breakfast, send kids off to school, head into office or office factory floor and after an honest day's work they return home ready to do it all over again in the morning," said Obama, who was joined at the event by Attorney General Eric Holder.
"We often take it for granted this cycle of life." But, he added, "chance can change everything overnight."
Figures from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund show that officer deaths declined from 138 in 2008 to 116 in 2009. That's the fewest line-of-duty deaths since 1959, when there were 109, according to the data.
On the Net:
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund: http://www.nleomf.org/
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