MISSOULA - Service and sacrifice go hand in hand for law enforcement officers and communities across the country are honoring this duty.
In 1962, President Kennedy issued the first proclamation for Peace Officers Memorial Day and National Police Week to remember and honor law enforcement officers killed or disabled in the line of duty.
Almost 60 years after that first proclamation, songs, speeches, and salutes keep the tradition alive.
“They're here to protect us, they answer the call when others wouldn't, they put their lives on the line daily, sometimes hourly during the day,” said Missoula County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Jeannette Smith.
Observers gathered at Memorial Rose Park on Thursday evening min Missoula where Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen gave the main address.
Standing before officers and their families, Knudsen shared with the crowd that 144 law officers have died in the line of duty in Montana since 1878. He also recalled the death of Broadwater County Deputy Sheriff Mason Moore and the life altering injuries of Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Wade Palmer.
“Nothing will bring back Deputy Moore or give back the years of recovery and pain that Trooper Palmer has endured, but delivering justice sends a message,” said Knudsen. “Montana does not and will not tolerate those who target our law enforcement officers.”