As is the case with the last Sunday in September each year, there will be a service on Parliament Hill this Sunday morning honouring those Police and Peace officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. It is specifically designed to commemorate those officers who lost their lives over the course of the last year, but also incorporates the remembrance of all officers who have died while on duty.
The service began following the death of Ottawa Police Constable David Kirkwood, and was borne of the desire of his colleagues to keep his memory alive. They held a memorial on Parliament Hill on the last Sunday of the September in 1978, the year following his death, and thus began a tradition. There is now a permanent Memorial on the Hill, behind the Peace Tower. Beside it are twenty-eight plaques that are etched with the names of the fallen officers, including those who passed away prior to the creation of the monument. As of this year, there are 771 names on the Memorial, including the names of the seven officers who lost their lives in the last year. Sadly there are additions to this Memorial every year.
This year, the following officers will be added to the memorial:
Constable Chelsey Robinson – June 21, 2010 (RCMP)
Constable Vu Pham – March 8, 2010 (Ontario Provincial Police)
Constable A. James Ochakovsky –March 2, 2010 (Peel Regional Police)
Chief Superintendent Douglas E. Coates – January 16, 2010 (RCMP)
Sergeant Mark Gallagher – January 12, 2010 (RCMP)
Constable I. Eric Czapnik – December 29, 2009 (Ottawa Police)
Constable Mélanie Roy – September 7, 2009 (Lévis Police Service)
I am honoured to be a part of the organizing committee for this service. My colleagues and I look after the families of the officers who have lost a loved one, coordinating their attendance at the service and hosting a vigil for the families. I know it is a small gesture to acknowledge the sacrifice, but I have seen that it helps the families left behind. The service on Sunday is open to the public, and really is a wonderful tribute.
If you are downtown on Sunday morning, here is the schedule for the service:
9:00 a.m. – 10:00a.m. Reading of the entire Honour Roll of fallen officers at the Memorial Pavilion on Parliament Hill, West Corner.
10:00 a.m. Prelude by police choirs (steps in front of the Peace Tower).
10:20a.m. Police and Peace Officers’ Parade proceeds to Parliament Hill from Supreme Court of Canada, corner of Kent and Wellington.
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Memorial Service on Parliament Hill.
If you cannot attend, I hope that you take a moment to remember those who have paid the ultimate price to serve their communities. More information on the service, including the names of all on the honour roll, see www.thememorial.ca.