U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) gave a moving tribute to their fallen officers and those of their legacy agencies-U.S. Customs Service and U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service-on Monday, May 10, 2010 with a National Police Week ceremony that included the unveiling of the ICE Honor and Remembrance Memorial.
The Julie Myers Conference Center of the ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C., was filled to capacity with ICE employees, ICE leadership and special guests, including U.S. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas. Guests of honor who traveled from near and far included family members of fallen officers David Wilhelm, Lorenzo Roberto Gomez, Gary Friedli and Manuel Zurita VII.
From spirited music, to a memorial video, to evocative remarks, the ceremony was punctuated by many moments that gave attendees so much pause that some dabbed at their eyes.
ICE Office of Investigations Director James Dinkins officiated at the solemn occasion, which began with a stately Honor Guard entrance, followed by a powerful rendition of the National Anthem, sung by ICE Special Agent Patrick Wilhelm, who is also the brother of fallen officer David Wilhelm. Chaplain James Gunnels gave a spiritual invocation.
Program Property Manager Karen McMillan's stirring rendition of Hero rivaled Mariah Carey, the song's original recording artist. Toward the ceremony's end, a memorial video was shown, which listed the names and end of watch dates of each fallen officer.
ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton thanked the family members for "lending your loved ones in service to law enforcement. They performed admirably and served their country well. We will never forget who they were and what they did to protect their communities." Morton metaphorically resurrected the lives of the fallen officers by recounting their meaningful professional and personal traits for which they will be remembered. He also said that these officers did not die in vain. "You have only to look at the great work this agency does every day to know that these men are still with us. We all build on the work of those that go before us." (More on Morton's remarks and a full text of his speech.)
The Honor Guard led ICE leadership and family members, followed by the remaining attendees to the ICE Honor and Remembrance Memorial. The attendees saw for the first time ICE's wall of crystal plaques, each one depicting the fallen officer's name, shield and end of watch date. ICE Writer/Editor Kelly J. Langmesser serenaded the group with a serene backdrop of violin music as attendees admired ICE's new Honor and Remembrance Memorial wall.
At the ceremony's conclusion, attendees traveled to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial (NLEOM) in Washington, D.C., where another brief ICE ceremony ensued and placed the agency wreath. The sun beat down, but the temperatures provided cool comfort on the hallowed grounds where 18,983 names of the brave are etched in granite.
For more information regarding 2010 National Police Week go to http://www.nationalpoliceweek.com/.
For more information on the NLEOM go to http://www.nleomf.com/.