WASHINGTON – President Bush (search) paid tribute on Sunday to 156 law enforcement officers killed last year while making traffic stops, arresting criminals, investigating crimes and performing other duties.
The names of the officers were added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial (search), along with 259 others who died in previous years but were not yet engraved on the memorial that was dedicated in 1991.
"All of these men and women served the cause of justice," Bush said at a memorial service on the Capitol lawn. "Our nation stands in admiration and gratitude for their service, and we ask God's blessings for the families and friends they have left behind."
Each May 15 is Peace Officers Memorial Day (search) as a result of a resolution signed by President Kennedy in 1962. Bush has spoken at a memorial service every year since he became president.
Bush was joined on stage this year by Cabinet secretaries, senators and other federal officials. Thousands of uniformed police officers and relatives of the fallen were in the audience. Country singer Darryl Worley sang "I Miss My Friend" in tribute.
Bush said the nation must never take its police officers for granted and cited a few who died in the line of duty last year: two Detroit officers killed while making a traffic stop, a sheriff's deputy from Pennsylvania killed while serving a bench warrant and an Arizona officer who died while diving for evidence in a murder case.
After his remarks, Bush placed a red carnation in a memorial wreath set up on the Capitol lawn. The program, which listed the names of 156 officers killed on the job in 2004, was delayed by more than 90 minutes while Bush went down to the audience and spent time hugging and greeting the family members.