NEWBURYPORT — More than 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy signed into law a bill that made May 15 known nationwide as Peace Officers Memorial Day.
This morning, local police officers, along with city officials and others are expected to honor that designation during a brief ceremony held inside Brown Square starting at 8:30 a.m.
City Marshal Thomas Howard said it was important to recognize those who died in the line of duty, not only in Newburyport, but wherever police officers go to work each day not knowing what will happen.
“It’s been very true to my heart,” Howard said.
Peace Officers Memorial Day is part of National Police Week, which began in 1982 as a gathering attended by 120 people inside Senate Park in Washington, D.C. As decades passed, the event grew to such proportions that it began drawing thousands of survivors and law enforcement officials each year, according to the Fraternal Order of Police.
In 2007, Howard and then-Inspector Brian Brunault were among those who traveled to Washington, D.C. to ensure that the names of the three Newburyport police officers killed in the line of duty were added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
They made a similar trip, albeit shorter, to Boston to ensure the three officers were honored in this state’s capital as well.
Howard said today’s ceremony, the first time such an event has taken place in the city, is but one way of recognizing their sacrifice. Another way, he said would be to conduct the ceremony every May 15 and to create a permanent memorial honoring the three fallen officers somewhere within the city.
“It’s just the right thing to do, to never forget,” Howard said.