Its now Sunday morning in DC and I am leaving the capital today and heading to Cleveland Ohio, some 300+ miles away. I am unlikely to get there until late in the day. I may end up blogging from a McDonalds on the way if they have free WI-Fi!
Yesterday, Saturday, Mike T and I spent some time in DC at the NLEOM chatting to officers and survivors. It was sad and at the same time very heartening to see fellow survivors supporting each other and comforting each other through the grief. We met one particular group of police widows who ranged from a 7 year widow through a 3 year widow to a first year widow, whose husband had ironically been killed cycling! Two of the woman expressed interest in volunteering to help on the PUT next year.
I have to say, I was somewhat humbled to hear them thanking me for my efforts in coming from England to support the PUT and fund raise. To me, I’m just riding my bike and enjoying myself. These people are the ones making all the sacrifices.Ladies, I salute you.
The NLEOM has walls engraved with names of all the US Law Enforcement Officers killed in the line of duty, over 19,000 names so far. There are many tributes posted on the walls in Police Week. The three pictures below show a section of the wall, in different degrees of close up. The first picture probably only shows about 5% of the 2 walls.
Some of the tributes are heart breaking. We are not just talking about a person killed, but also about those widowed, those who lose their sons and daughters and those who lose their parent or grandparent.
Tell me that these handwritten messages ( of which I’ve only posted 2 of hundreds there) don’t touch your heart. One can only wonder how the deaths will affect these children in the future.
Amongst the heart ache, there is also a number of heart warming tributes. One officer Louis Villalobos from LAPD is remembered in a great manner. He was killed in a training accident with the SWAT team 6 months before he was due to retire. He like a drink of Tequila with a dash of tabasco sauce – known as prairie fire. So in his memory there was a bottle of tequila , a bottle of tabasco and shot glasses on the wall near his name and everyone was invited to help themselves to a shot. This bottle was regularly replenished and the plastic shot glasses replaced. People stopped and drank a toast to Louie and made new friends. What a great tribute to the memory of a friend.
At the memorial on Saturday, America’s Most Wanted – a bit like our Crimewatch was being filmed. Craig Floyd the CEO of the NLEOM was being interviewed by the host of AMW. This is a hugely popular programme in the US and its anchor has suffered the heartbreak of having a child murdered whilst hosting the show.
There are inscriptions on the memorial walls that speak for themselves
In amongst the sadness and grief at the wall there were moments of relief. This particular squirrel liked the wreath it came upon on the wall and was not going to let mourning police officers and survivors put it off.
I paid another visit to the Memorial Shop and to the “Pit” which is a series of stalls selling merchandise surround a bar area that provides entertainment during police week.
I then left Mike & Lisa & her Canadian contingent to take part or watch the Honour Guard and I made my way to watch DC United in the US Major League Soccer. I will be posting a separate blog about that.
I am about to have breakfast then say goodbye to Mike T and Lisa and start on my holiday!
Thanks to everyone who has sponsored me for this ride. Its not too late to sponsor me- either online at www.firstgiving.com/peterbennett or send me a cheque. The funds raised go to a truly worthwhile cause. Thank you once again for supporting this cause.