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Monday, May 17, 2010

Police week conclusion

I have not been in touch for a couple of days. We were a little busier in DC than originally anticipated and at times made it difficult to update the blog. We had a fantastic time on our journey and was an experience that none of us will forget!! So here are some photos from Saturday in DC. On this date we attended the memorial ceremony on the Capitol lawn, met with Dave Reichert and just had a good time.

A view of the Capitol building. One of our officers, Jeff Carroll, was able to score us some seats for the ceremony. Generally it is standing room only unless you are "connected". We were able to sit in the FOP / VIP seats at the rear of the ceremony.

Here is the view from our seats. The President was the keynote speaker for the ceremony. Leann Womack was there to sing a song and a few officers from around the country sang songs during the ceremony.

John looking dapper during the ceremony. The sun was out and it was a gorgeous day. A little cover would have been nice as most of us did not prepare with sunscreen. We got a bit of sun but enjoyed being outside in the nice weather.

During the ceremony it is tradition that as officer names are read in the roll call that officers present from their state rise in honor and salute. There was a group of Lakewood and Seattle officers sitting together. When it neared time for us to honor our fallen we all stood at the back of the seats to pay tribute. Here we are in formation and then once they began the Washington State roll call we saluted our fallen brothers and sister.

John and I with a photo op in front of the Capitol after the ceremony.

The memorial wreath. As the name of each officer is read off of the roll call of honor a member of their family approaches the wreath and places a red flower in the center star. This wreath is then later taken to the National Law Enforcement Memorial where it is placed in the middle of the site and kept under the watchful eye of two honor guard members all night.

Honor guard members from the State of Washington awaiting the arrival of the wreath at the Memorial. Present were members from the Washington State Patrol, Seattle PD, Pierce County SO, Tacoma PD, Metro Pierce (Lakewood, etc) and Snohomish County.

Washington State officers were given the honor of forming the reception line for the wreath to arrive at the Memorial. The last picture here is a group of Lakewood officers that were present.

The Lakewood officers that were present to receive the wreath.

After the wreath ceremony a small group of us went to visit with Congressman Dave Reichert at his office. Dave Reichert is a former Sheriff of the King County Sheriff's Office. He gave us an opportunity to go to the Senate floor and observe the room where the President gives the State of the Union address. It was pretty cool to be down there. The photo above is our small group just outside of Congressman Reichert's office, what a view.

This was an amazing trip that will not be forgotten by those that made it. The four of us that rode are certain to return next year and continue to ride in memory of our fallen and all other officers across the United States. We have been told by several Lakewood members that they are looking to join us next year. We are certain to have more than four of us from the state participating in the Police Unity Tour.

Saturday night brought no ceremonial items and Sunday was day of departure back home.

Stay tuned to the blog. Although it will not be as often, it will have updated information on fundraising and group growth leading up to next year's ride. We thank those that sponsored us to assist in making this happen and to all of our families for allowing us to fly across the country and take part in this phenomenal week of events.

Friday, May 14, 2010

First day of Police Week

I forgot to mention that on the night of 12 May when we arrived in DC at the conclusion of the ride the chapter that we were riding with had a dinner. We went to Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian steakhouse. It was an excellent meal and gave those that were riding under Chapter XIII one last certain chance to be together.

We also went out that evening and were able to meet with some of the Lakewood officers that traveled to DC for the ceremonies. It was great to see many of them waiting for us at the Memorial when we rode in and equally as great to see more of them that evening.

On 13 May we knew that the big event would be the Candlelight Vigil. During the day we did not do too much. We basically hung around the hotel and got our uniforms ready for the evening. Our main task for the Vigil was to be escort officers for the survivors as they arrived at the Memorial. We had to be at the Memorial at 4:30 to get briefed and ready for buses of survivors to begin arriving around 5. There were numerous officers that were a part of this detail. We formed receiving lines from the curb into the Memorial for seating. We handed each female a rose and escorted them to their seats. It was a special honor and privelege I am certain we will not soon forget.

The reflection pond at the National Law Enforcement Memorial.

The stage and some of the survivors that had arrived for the ceremony. Not all of them came by bus and were in the area early.

This is our side of the receiving line. This was duplicated on the opposite side of the Memorial.

Here are four members of the Lakewood PD on honor guard duty. They are members of the Metro Pierce Honor Guard. Four member honor guard details were present while the survivors arrived at the Memorial. They rotated in and out about every 15 minutes or so. It was good to see our local guys representing at the Vigil.

This is a sampling of the crowd of survivors at the Vigil.

We were told that once the ceremony started there would be a very large crowd. None of us anticipated seeing this many people present for the ceremony. This is half of the people that were present behind us. In front of us were hundreds off other officers, civilians and survivors.

A photo of us during the ceremony.

Craig Floyd, CEO and chairman of the NLEOMF, was the emcee for the evening. Several people gave speeches to include the national president of Concerns Of Police Survivors (Jennifer Thacker) and the US Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. It was heartwarming to hear AG Holder speak of our officers and the tragedy that occurred in Lakewood. It truly was a national phenomenon that was recognized around the globe. There were numerous fellow officers that we have spoken with during the week that are in the know of our incident.

The Vigil included a blue laser that was illuminated across the Memorial in honor of the Thin Blue Line. It was very impressive to see. It also included the candle lighting ceremony. The first candle was lit on the dais and spread across the crowd. It was amazing to see every candle lit with just a few minutes. There were thousands of people in attendance and this was an amazing feat.

The shield that we wear with pride.

The NLEOMF symbol and the thin blue line.

After the ceremony at the wall.

On 14 May we did not have anything on the agenda. We spent the morning moving from one hotel to another for our final few days. In the afternoon we walked around a bit and visited the Memorial Wall again. We made impressions of our fallen officers that we will be taking home with us. Tomorrow brings the Memorial Service on the Capitol Lawn.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

DC arrival day

Today brings the final leg of the ride journey. The morning started in Annapolis, traveled to RFK Stadium and then into the Memorial.

Mark in the courtyard of the hotel in Annapolis. We rode our bikes from here up the street to another hotel where other riders were staying. There we had breakfast and it was the starting point for the day.

The group eagerly awaiting our departure from the hotel parking lot to begin the last leg of the ride.

Mark having a snack at the Target stop. Today brought much different weather than yesterday afternoon. We had sunshine, rising temperatures and the humidity was increasing. Everyone was thankful to make it to the Target lot so that we could shed some layers!

A team photo before we leave Target and head to RFK.

Send off from the Target lot. The mass of blue and white shirts was impressive to see rolling down the streets.

Our arrival into one of the RFK stadium parking lots. As I said there was a group of riders already there and they greeted us as we rode in. When the final group came in there was another long reception line for them.

Team photo with one of the Police Unity Tour support vehicles.

When we arrived at RFK Mark had a phone message that a reporter from one of our local TV stations (KIRO) was looking for us to do an interview. She caught up with us in the lot and here are some shots of us being interviewed. Unfortunately we did not get a picture of John. He ran off to be the first one interviewed before we were ready with the cameras.

Each of us wore a metal bracelet during the ride to honor one of our fallen officers. Here is a photo of those bracelets when we were at RFK. These bracelets will be given to the surviving spouses at the Candlelight Vigil tomorrow evening.

Riding from the stadium down to the Memorial site. We started out about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way back in the queue. One of the ride marshalls came upon us and told us that we needed to get to the front of the line. He told us that it is tradition that when a department loses officers they are to ride in at or near the front of the line. We started to make our way to the front and we could hear officers asking who we were as we passed on the left. That was immediately followed by, "It's Lakewood". That was pretty cool. We made it to within about the first 20 riders as we went into the memorial.
There was an honor guard and bag pipe band awaiting us at the memorial. As the riders arrived we split and went to either side of the memorial. We were on the left side and were able to ride past our fallen officers and a group of our officers that were waiting for us to arrive.

The Washington Fallen Heroes as they appear on the Memorial Wall.