By Todd Richissin
Tens of thousands of law officers from the United States and beyond its shores are gathering in Washington for National Police Week, part of an annual pilgrimage to honor the fallen among their ranks.
The focal point for the week is the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, a courtyard bordered by two gently sloping, 304-foot-long, three-foot-high walls that bear the engraved names of more than 19,000 officers killed in the line of duty.
Most of the names added this year are officers who died in 2013; others are officers whose sacrifice previously had been lost to history.
This year, 286 names were added to the wall, including three officers from Illinois killed in 2013 and 13 others from previous years, joining the more than 1,000 names of fallen officers from Illinois already engraved.
Among those from Illinois who died in 2013 whose names were added:
Investigator Cuauhtemoc Estrada, Cook County Sheriff's Department, who was shot and killed while intervening in a robber in Bellwood while off duty on Dec. 20, 2013.
Police Officer Casey Kohlmeier and his canine, Draco, of the Pontiac Police Department, were killed when their patrol car was struck by a drunken driver on I-55 on Oct. 30, 2013.
Trooper James Sauter, Illinois State Police, was killed when a semi-trailer truck struck his cruiser on I-294, south of Willow Road, on March 28, 2013.
Eleven additional names, dating from 1889 through 1932 were added, as were Chicago Police Department Youth Officer Casey Tristano, who died in 1970 of a heart attack sustained during a fight with a suspect, and St. Clair County Sheriff's Deputy Lamont C. Reid, who died in 2010 of a heart attack after a search for a suicidal man.
National Police Week is an annual event in Washington, DC, a week of color guards and sad salutes, of help for surviving families and the promise to, as an engraving on part of the wall implores, "Respect. Honor. Remember."On Tuesday, thousands will gather at the memorial for a candle-light vigil, where names will be read in a final roll call for the fallen. Taps will sound and officers and their families will gather to touch the names on the walls, to lay wreaths and flowers, and to remember.