Sunday, May 15 is the 30th annual Peace Officers Memorial Service. Law enforcement from all over the country gathered in Washington for National Police Week to honor fallen comrades-in-arms. Too bad President Obama couldn’t be there.
Despite being invited to speak to the widows, children and friends of the 165 officers recognized this year as killed in the line of duty, he somehow didn’t think it was important to trek the two miles from the White House to the Capitol Building to participate. Perhaps it’s because Mr. Obama historically has had a conflicted relationship with law enforcement.
While he has hosted the “Top Cops” - officers recognized for heroism - in the Rose Garden, this president has consistently failed to mention National Police Week, which is observed every year with the thin blue line gathering in town. Mr. Obama spoke at the memorial service in 2010 - never mind that it was his next opportunity after infamously saying Cambridge, Mass., police acted “stupidly” in arresting Harvard professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates when responding to a breaking-and-entering report. Mr. Obama declined to speak at the service in 2009, choosing instead to host baseball’s World Series winners, where he offered his condolences to a Philadelphia Phillie who lost his mother during the playoffs: “I know how tough that is. I lost my grandmother in the middle of my election. … I admired your perseverance during those trying times. I know how hard that must have been on you.”
President George W. Bush set a different example, speaking at the Peace Officer’s Memorial Service every year of his presidency except 2008, when being in Jerusalem made his attendance impossible. As he noted May 15, 2007, “I have been here ever since I’ve been the president… it’s fitting because this is a really important day for our country [when] we remember men and women who fell in the line of duty.”
Remembered or forgotten by the Obama White House, the families and friends of those killed in the line of duty weren’t expecting to be insulted during the week they remember their dead. On Wednesday, the White House hosted a poetry night at which rapper Common, author of at least one work praising a convicted cop-killer, performed. Fraternal Order of Police National President Chuck Canterbury sent a letter expressing his “profound disappointment” with the invitation and followed it up with a phone call reminding Mr. Obama’s staff that National Police Week is “a time to honor law-enforcement officers for their service and sacrifice.”
Though Mr. Obama lacks the experience of donning a uniform in service to his country or his community, that’s a reminder he shouldn’t have needed - particularly if he expects peace officers’ support come 2012.
Update: O bama found — golf, not grief