As part of the 49th annual National Peace Officers Memorial Day, the nation paused this month to remember law-enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. Ceremonies were held across our country, including one that I participated in on the South Lawn at the State Capitol. It was an occasion to look back on the lives of the dedicated men and women we have lost, to support their family members, and to acknowledge and appreciate the dangerous work of the officers who serve us every day.
This year, Arkansas's observance was made all the more special by the dedication of the Arkansas State Police Memorial Hall of Honor. Housed at State Police headquarters in Little Rock, the Hall pays homage to the 19 State Troopers who have been killed in the line of duty throughout our state's history. Each man is memorialized with an individually sculpted bronze casting and a description of their service to the State. Outside the Hall in the entryway, visitors are welcomed by a three-foot-tall police shield lit by a light that represents goodness and decency. The light that bounces off the shield symbolizes hope to those who call for help. At the same time, a shadow lies across the shield like a mourning ribbon, reminding us of the ultimate sacrifice made by the men honored there.
It's a solemn memorial, but it's also elegant and imposing. The Hall acts as a bridge between generations of State Troopers and survivor families, allowing them to share common, yet sacred, ground. It's truly a magnificent way for Arkansas to recognize our fallen Troopers and the sacrifices they and their families have made. Even if you have no personal connection to the Arkansas State Police, it is well worth your time to visit.
Our law-enforcement officers are as deserving as ever of our respect and appreciation. Although violent crime has decreased nationwide, the number of police officers being killed in the line of duty is rising. In 2011, officer deaths nationwide were the highest they've been in nearly two decades, excluding the September 11th attacks and the Oklahoma City bombing. The 2011 deaths also marked the first time that more officers were killed in the United States by suspects than in car accidents.
The men and women of our law-enforcement community are willing to put their lives on the line at any given moment to protect us, our families and our homes. The routine, everyday nature of their courage makes it all the more extraordinary. Arkansans can now quietly pay tribute to the work of all our men and women in uniform by visiting the Hall of Honor. It's a respectful memorial to families who have also made deep sacrifices, and an expression of gratitude for a job that is often carried out without enough thanks.