I want to extend my heartfelt thanks and support to the families and friends of those officers we honor and remember today, and to their fellow officers who are here from around the state.
As you look around today, you see many different uniforms, and scores of law enforcement agencies represented. But there is a special sense of unity here, a kindred spirit that ties us together.
I am privileged to again join Missouri's law enforcement family on this day of remembrance, as we honor the men and women who have given their lives in the service and protection of their fellow citizens.
While we especially remember those whose names we add to the memorial today, we also pay our respects to those officers enshrined on this memorial from years past.officers who served and protected Missourians going back many generations.
By the very nature of their calling, law enforcement officers willingly - and without hesitation - put their lives on the line in service to their fellow citizens.
Their courage, training, and dedication help keep us safe - even as they put themselves in harm's way. Their selfless acts of courage were especially demonstrated time and again during 2011.
Bravery and vigilance are constant traits of those who wear the badge - whether it is stopping criminal acts of violence. or walking the halls of our most secure prisons. or rescuing those caught in a blizzard, swept away by raging floodwaters, or trapped in the dangerous wreckage of a home destroyed by a tornado.
It is a courage that is so constant and commonplace, many take it for granted. And that is something we will not do.
Each year, on the first Saturday of May, we witness this gathering of law enforcement officers from around the state, from agencies large and small, urban and rural.
Wherever you have come from in Missouri, you are here this morning in a show of compassion and solidarity for your fellow officers who are no longer with us, and for their families.
When the families come up to place the flowers, remembering the loved ones they lost.when officers from around the state step forward with their wreaths. when the pipes and drums play, and the salute is fired. our hearts are deeply moved.
Yes, moved in sadness for the pain and loss . but also moved by the knowledge that, on our behalf, these officers gave the last full measure.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us that "No greater love hath no man than this - that a man lay down his life for his friends."
Each day, those who have taken an oath as law enforcement officers demonstrate that, by being willing to lay their lives on the line.to put the safety of others.often, those they have never met.ahead of their own well-being.
I am certain that everyone here joins me in praying that we will add no more names to this memorial. But the nature of what law enforcement officers do - how the safety and well-being of others is paramount - and how they run to danger, when everyone else is running from it - all but ensures there will be those who give their lives in the line of duty.
We only have to think of the more than 400 law enforcement and emergency response agencies that ran to Joplin immediately after the tornado to see the truth in that.
This ceremony stands as a reminder that in every decade and every generation, there are those who take on the responsibility for the safety of society. Quietly and without fanfare, they face danger everyday to protect us.
Any names we add to this memorial are too many, and last year there were seven in the Missouri law enforcement family who fell in the line of duty. We add their names today, along with the names of two who passed away in 2010.
They came from many different agencies. The common tie that binds not only them together, but that also binds together all law enforcement across our state, is that these guardians of peace were dedicated to the cause of upholding the law.
When they took that oath swearing to uphold the Constitution, they made a commitment and dedicated their lives to act on behalf of their fellow citizens. And they made this commitment knowing full well that it might someday require the ultimate sacrifice. Today, we pay special honor to those who made that sacrifice.
As the citizens protected by their courage and vigilance, we need to take the time to say "thank you" to those who stand between us and harm. We also need to say "thank you" to the families represented here today.
We can show that thanks not only by saying it, but also by recognizing the challenges faced by the men and women who wear the badge - and then supporting them in what they do to protect society.
To Missouri's law enforcement community, and to the families of our officers, I say "Thank you."
May God bless and protect not only our country and state, but also bless and protect all those who wear the badge so that we may be safe. Thank you.