CBP Officers and Agents Join Thousands to Honor Heroes at Peace Officers’ Service
The mournful wail of bagpipes wafted over a sea of uniformed officers, their families and friends gathered on the lawn in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. The thousands in attendance were there to witness the 37th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service, honoring their fallen brothers and sisters, killed in the line of duty during the past year. Among those remembered - U.S. Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez.
“Agent Martinez took immense pride and joy in serving his country. Every day he would go to work and risk his life to keep America safe,” President Donald Trump told the crowd gathered from across the U.S., as well as law enforcement officers from as far away as Australia, noting that Martinez wanted to prevent terrorists and drugs from coming into the country. “He bravely confronted the cartels, the smugglers, the human traffickers, the gangs, that threaten our communities.”
CBP lost two U.S. Border Patrol agents in 2017. Agent Isaac Morales was killed while off-duty May 20, 2017, in El Paso, Texas, as he confronted an assailant with a knife. CBP determined that his heroic actions were in the line of duty. Agent Martinez died while on duty from injuries Nov. 19, 2017, as a result of an incident that is still under investigation in the Big Bend Sector area of operation. CBP is also honoring Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Lawrence B. Pierce who was killed while trying to break up a fight August 17, 1995, in Chula Vista, California. President Trump called the law enforcement men and women who lost their lives heroes. “They made the ultimate sacrifice so we could live in safety and in peace.”
Vice President Mike Pence and Commissioner Kevin McAleenan were also among the dignitaries on the stage with the President. The ceremony honored the 199 law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty and are being added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, as well as the thousands of families, friends and colleagues in uniform.
“To all those who serve on the thin blue line of law enforcement … and to all who have traveled from near and far to gather here at our nation’s Capitol, we are honored by your presence on this sacred day of remembrance,” Vice President Pence said. “[We] mourn the fallen, honor their sacrifice, and re-dedicate ourselves to stand with those who protect our families and our communities every day.”
The memorial service was born out of an executive order signed by President Kennedy in 1962, designating every May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15 falls, as National Police Week. CBP participates in a number of activities to commemorate Police Week, including, the Blue Mass held at Washington, D.C.’s, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on May 1; a National Police Week 5K run on May 12; a candlelight vigil held on May 13; the National Honor Guard, Pipe and Drums competition on May 14; and the CBP Valor Memorial Ceremony on May 16.
While all the events and ceremonies are meant to remember and honor those law enforcement officers lost, President Trump emphasized that, in a way, they are not really gone.
“You lost mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters. And America lost incredible heroes,” he said. “But they will endure forever … in our memories, in our hearts and in the countless lives they touched through their courage and through their grace. Their legacy will never die.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.