CAIR-Chicago Salutes Fallen Officers at CPD's Annual Vigil
September 24, 2009
CAIR-Chicago joined hundreds of police officers, family, and friends to honor the 540 fallen officers who died in the line of duty, and to recognize the 15,520 members of the Chicago Police Department (CPD), the nation’s second largest police force.
Held at the Gold-Star Families Memorial and Park just east of Soldier Field off Burnham Harbor, the event was presented by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation (CPMF), which provides support and assistance for fallen officers’ families. Gerald Hankerson, CAIR-Chicago’s Outreach Coordinator, attended the vigil.
Each fallen officer's name was called by former partners and family members, noting the very first officer from 1854 to the eight added to the memorial’s wall this year. Elected officials, distinguished CPD members, and clergy remarked on the significance of the event and the sacrifice given by the men and women who served Chicago. Guests included Governor Pat Quinn, Mayor Richard J. Daley, CPD Superintendent Jody Weis, and Phillip Cline, CPD Retired Superintendent and CPMF Executive Director.
Tributes to the fallen officers were all abound the vigil and the city. Officers formed a periphery around the park holding photos of each officer. Surviving children of the eight inductees released balloons for their loved ones. A 21-gun salute closed out the vigil, along with a recessional by the CPD Bagpipes and Drums of the Emerald Society. The city’s skyline was adorned in blue lights, with windows spelling out "CPD" and an officer badge number in many of its prominent skyscrapers. Light beams were casted from Lake Michigan to signify the officers’ "sacred oath" and their "immortal souls".
Hankerson, a former CPD intern for three summers and a former youth participant of its C.A.P.S. programs, noted the event’s somber but beautiful tone. "Our officers are at the forefront of serving and protecting social justice while placing their lives in danger to protect the citizens of Chicago. The fallen officers followed through on their oaths when they died. It’s fitting to remember each officer, and pray that the ones alive on duty honorably and bravely fulfill their oaths, maintaining our city’s peace."