- The Washington Times - Monday, May 24, 2004

Police officers from across the region will assist with security for this weekend’s National World War II Memorial dedication, many signing up out of a sense of gratitude for veterans.

“The heroes that we have today in society are the Hollywood figures and the athletes and in some cases the politicians. But they are not the heroes that made this country. The heroes are the ones who fought and served to preserve our country and the freedoms we have,” said Master Officer Bryan Patterson, an instructor at the Criminal Justice Academy in Fairfax County.

The U.S. Park Police asked Fairfax to send 40 officers. More than 150 signed up.

“I begged, ‘Please let me go. I’ll do anything you want to be a part of this mission,’” Officer Patterson said. “I just want to thank and shake the hands of every soldier there who fought in that war. We just don’t realize what they did.”

About 200,000 people, including President Bush, are expected to attend the dedication festivities Saturday on the Mall. More than 35 federal, state and local-law enforcement agencies will help Park police and D.C. police with security, said Sgt. Scott Fear, Park police spokesman.

Fairfax County will contribute 40 officers, Prince George’s County will send 36, and Arlington County is sending 60 members of their civil-disturbance unit, which traditionally helps with big events on the Mall.

There is unusual enthusiasm for this event, Sgt. Fear said.

“I have heard that there are a lot of volunteers for this assignment,” he said.

In Fairfax, the response to the request for volunteers was immediate and passionate and was led by Lt. Purvis L. Dawson Jr., deputy commander of the Fair Oaks station.

“When the chief’s office put out the call, within two minutes I sent out an e-mail and said, ‘I would love to do this. It would be an honor and a privilege,’” Lt. Dawson said.

Lt. Dawson’s grandfather worked at a torpedo factory in Alexandria during the war, and his father was drafted but excused from service because of a heart murmur. Lt. Dawson is a history buff, he said, which is common among the officers who wanted to work this weekend.

“I just think it’s a generation we need to respect. I hope to sit down on my step one day with my grandkids and tell them, ‘When your grandaddy was a policeman, he was there when they dedicated the World War II Memorial,” Lt. Dawson said. “It’s something so unique in history that I want to be a part of it.”

Officer Patterson had one uncle who served in the Marines and fought in the Pacific theater and several uncles who landed on Normandy on D-Day, one of whom was left paralyzed from wounds suffered on the beach.

“When I see what they did and the prices they paid and the battles they fought, there’s not many people who will have to go through what they did. To be in the same building, on the same ground, is a humbling experience. To be on such hallowed ground, in the company of such men and women, is such a special thing,” Officer Patterson said.

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