It's not how they died...

Friday, June 13, 2008
Above, An alphabetical index helps visitors find names of slain law enforcement officers on their memorial in Judiciary Square in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Judiciary Square is more than where local court cases are heard, or a subway stop. It's where the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is located.

During work weeks, lawmen and women, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, court officers, convicts, clerks, witnesses, reporters, defendants and jurors do their work in one of the three branches of our democracy.

On a recent weekend, a few of them returned to wrap up a few loose ends, meet friends and stroll through the memorial inscribed with more than 18,200 names of officers who died in the line of duty.

Like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial with its 58,250 names, the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial has visitors who make rubbings of the names of those they knew, remember and still love. There are even slips of paper with the monument's name -- stationery -- available for the purpose.

These lions of our society are remembered in bronze and stone with water flowing in a reflecting pool and pillars recalling Rome, reminding us that it's not how they died. It's how they lived their lives.

An underlying philosophy of their profession is inscribed from the texts of good books written for the ages.

"The wicked flee when no one pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion," Proverbs 28:1.

And, "In valor, there is hope," Tacitus, the Roman senator and historian whose work was marked by bold, sharp wit and brief, unconventional use of language.