Today, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Corrections Chiefs Committee gathered at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial to honor correctional officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice—including nine correctional officers killed in 2012 and 21 fallen correctional officers from the DC metro area.
Since the Memorial was first dedicated in October 1991, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Corrections Chiefs Committee has conducted an annual ceremony at the Memorial to recognize the service and sacrifice of our nation’s correctional officers. Led by Thomas N. Faust, Director of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections, this year’s ceremony included guest speakers Herbert Giobbi, Chief Operating Officer of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, Chief Kenneth Ellerbee of the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services and Paul A. Quander Jr., Deputy Mayor of the District of Columbia.
Following the presentation of the colors by the honor guard, Sergeant Chris Sawyer of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office performed the national anthem. The invocation was led by Chaplain Rosco Lockheart of the Montgomery County Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. After a brief welcome by Chuck Bean, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, there was a special recognition of Chief Kenneth Ellerbee.
The roll call of fallen heroes was then solemnly read aloud as members of the participating honor guards carried red roses to the center medallion of the Memorial. After each flower was placed, a single bell tolled. In a traditional symbolic gesture, white doves were released at the end of the ceremony and a wreath was placed at the medallion.
Tomorrow marks the start of National Correctional Officers and Employees Week (May 5-11, 2013), which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. Proclaiming the first-ever National Correctional Officers’ Week on May 5, 1984, President Reagan called “upon officials of State and local governments and the people of the United States to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
In 1996, Congress officially changed the name of the week to National Correctional Officers and Employees Week. The names of 585 correctional officers are engraved on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. These courageous heroes are forever remembered. Their light continues to shine through their memory and through the selfless men and women who continue to serve each day.