Law enforcement memorial offers a permanent honor for fallen off - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Law enforcement memorial offers a permanent honor for fallen officers

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (KTIV) -

The first American law enforcement officer died in the line of duty in 1791. But, it took another 200 years to dedicate a memorial to their service and sacrifice.

The memorial has 20,267 names. The names of men and women. They're parents, spouses, and children. All have fallen in the line of duty. "It's important to pay homage to the law enforcement heroes who gave their lives in the performance of duty," said Steve Groeninger, National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

The names are etched in granite. Workers have engraved new ones every year since the memorial opened in 1991. "There's no other place like it in the country that nationally recognizes all of our fallen officers," Groeninger said. "And, it's important for people in this country to know who these people were and that they laid down their lives for their own safety and protection."

Sadly, this is one memorial that will never be finished. "Are there mixed emotions, asked Matt Breen. "It's nice that there's a memorial like this to honor fallen officers, but at the same time you're adding names every year." "We are, and unfortunately, we're adding more names every single year than I think we should," Groeninger said.

Somehow, the names, the granite, and the tributes are therapeutic. "It does serve a purpose," Groeninger said. "It hits people in the heart. It helps those who have lost an officer process their grief and move through that tragedy. And, it also helps celebrate these lives. I've had survivors tell me, 'I go to the cemetery, and I visit a headstone, and I'm depressed. And, I come to the Law Enforcement Memorial and I'm uplifted.'"

Still, many hope they never have to add another name to these walls. "One name is one too many," Groeninger said. And, we're going to keep working until we don't have to do that anymore."

KTIV's Matt Breen is in Washington D.C. at the Memorial Service on the West Front of US Capitol.

It starts at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Follow Matt's Tweets from the event @MattBreenKTIV.

Matt will have coverage on News 4 at Six and Ten.

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