TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- Each year there is a group of people who cycle hundreds of miles to remember fallen officers. Members of the Police Unity Tour proudly wear their motto, "We Ride For Those Who Died." There are chapters of the Police Unity Tour all over the country, officers and survivors riding to keep the memory of the fallen alive.
WTXL traveled with the Police Unity Tour, Chapter 8, as they rode 250 miles from Portsmouth, VA to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.
Watch the video to get a look into why these these officers and survivors choose to come back every year and complete the trek to the Police Officers Memorial Wall.
Months of grueling training just to be able to bike 250 miles to keep the memory of a fallen officer alive. Everyone has their own reason for being part of the Police Unity Tour. They can’t imagine having to tell their children that mommy is never coming home. They don’t want to think about what would happen if they got the call telling them they would never see their husband again. Broken hearts at the thought of looking into the eyes of a son who just lost his father.
An unscheduled announcement was made during the opening ceremony of the ride. Two officers from Mississippi were killed in the line of duty overnight. Many in the crowd had already heard the news. Department to department, the blue line is strong. Mark Trexler, a Police Unity Tour chapter president, choked up at reading the names, a lone bagpipe played Amazing grace.
With the sounds of sirens, the riders were off. Everywhere they went, all along the route, they had an audience. People stood on the side of the road and waved. In fact, every where there were people waving. People who had no idea what the Police Unity Tour was, or why there were so many police cars driving down their street, were happy to see the long caravan drive through their town. Mothers stood on the front porches with their children and pointed as the cyclists rode past.
When you are traveling 250 miles at an average of 15 miles per hour, the trip takes three days to complete and nothing is easy. Though they never forget why they are riding, someone lines the road with the signs that bear the names of the fallen to help serve as a stark reminder. As a group, the riders pushed on.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall is etched with 20,538 names, and each one has a story. Walk down either side of the path, and you will hear these stories. Loved ones share the story of how their officer died, and how they lived.
Click the Links Below to Read the Blog Posts
Everything is in a name and the Police Unity Tour says it all. They are united to honor the ones who gave up everything. Some ride in the name of a friend who they worked alongside. Some ride to honor those they will never get the chance to meet.
If the first day of the Police Unity Tour started out with perfect weather, the second day the riders were going to have to try to stay ahead of the rain.
The moment they have all been training and riding for was at hand. It was a chance to ride their bikes through the waving crowds of survivors and honor the fallen officers, but first a very early 5:45 a.m. start.
The three-day bike ride was no easy feat. The cyclists climbed many steep hills. When it got tough, riders say they would just look down at the bracelet wrapped around their wrist bearing the name of an officer who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Remembering the Fallen Heroes Mentioned in the Blue Healing Special
"It is not how these officers died that made them heroes, it is how they lived, " Vivian Eney Cross, Survivor. Click the names to read about the fallen officers who were featured in this special.
Links for More Information
The primary purpose of the Police Unity Tour is to raise awareness of Law Enforcement Officers who have died in the line of duty.
Founded in 1984, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is dedicated to honoring and remembering the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers in the United States.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is centered in the 400 block of E Street, NW, Washington, DC and is the nation’s monument to law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.
The Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc., (ODMP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring America's fallen law enforcement heroes. More than 20,000 officers have made the ultimate sacrifice in the United States and it is with great honor that the ODMP pays a lasting tribute to each of these officers by preserving their memories within its pages.
Concerns of Police Survivors, Inc. (C.O.P.S.) provides resources to assist in the rebuilding of the lives of surviving families and affected co-workers of law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week. Currently, tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world converge on Washington, DC to participate in a number of planned events which honor those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice.