National Police Week: Remembering those who serve, protect

10th Security Forces Squadron commander, Maj. Jose Lebron. (U.S. Air Force photo)

10th Security Forces Squadron commander, Maj. Jose Lebron. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Airmen from the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Detachment 2 Police Transition Team stand in formation at Camp Stryker, Iraq, during a memorial ceremony honoring 1st Lt. Joseph D. Helton, Jr. Sept. 12, 2009. Lieutenant Helton, a flight commander for the 732nd ESFS Det. 2, was killed Sept. 8, 2009, by an improvised explosive device while leading his team on a mission in Baghdad. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Johnny L. Saldivar)

Airmen from the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Detachment 2 Police Transition Team stand in formation at Camp Stryker, Iraq, during a memorial ceremony honoring 1st Lt. Joseph D. Helton, Jr. Sept. 12, 2009. Lieutenant Helton, a flight commander for the 732nd ESFS Det. 2, was killed Sept. 8, 2009, by an improvised explosive device while leading his team on a mission in Baghdad. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Johnny L. Saldivar)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY. Colo. -- In the U.S., we have many observances, celebrations and holidays to commemorate and celebrate; from Martin Luther King Jr. Day to Veterans Day, our nation takes time to reflect on an event or people who shaped, changed or created history. Among these observances are Peace Officer Memorial Day and National Police Week.

The Peace Officer Memorial Day was enacted by Congress Oct. 1, 1961, to honor peace officers. A year later, President John F. Kennedy signed Public Law declaring May 17 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton directed the U.S. Flag be flown at half-staff every May 15 to signify the sacrifices of U.S. law enforcement officers.

National Police Week pays honors and tribute to the 900,000 local, state, and federal law enforcement personnel who put their lives in the line of duty on a daily basis to protect our freedom "inside the wire" while our military takes care of this mission "outside the wire." Each year, a memorial service occurs in Washington and in many other cities across the nation, including Colorado Springs.

Peace Officers serve and protect us against criminals, terrorists and organizations wanting to inflict fear and fulfill their political or religious cause. Since the first recorded police death in 1791, more than 20,000 law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty; 1,501 of these officers were killed during the past 10 years. The deadliest day in law enforcement history was Sept. 11, 2001, when 72 officers were killed while responding to the largest terrorist attack in our history.

National Police Week commemorates civilian law enforcement and military members serving in a law enforcement capacity. The Air Force has suffered the loss of several security forces Airmen killed in the line of duty. Ten security forces "Defenders" have lost their lives since 2005, starting with Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Jacobson, who was killed when her vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in Iraq. Most recently, Staff Sgt. Todd Lobraico lost his life to small-arms fire in Afghanistan in September 2013. The Academy also lost one of its own: 1st Lt. Joseph Helton, Class of '07, who lost his life to an improvised explosive device in Iraq Sept. 8, 2009.

I hope you'll take a moment to thank those military and civilian "Defenders" for all they do to protect us, as well as take a moment to remember those who have given their life in service to their community and their nation.