WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from across the country gathered on the National Mall Friday evening for the 28th annual National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial’s Candlelight Vigil.
Two hundred fifty-two officers who lost their lives in the line of duty were remembered and their names were added to the wall of the memorial.
One hundred twenty-three officers died last year, including two from the Washington, D.C.-area: Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta, who died December 10, 2015, and Prince George’s County Police Officer Brennan Rabain, who died March 7, 2015.
"As we come together, we celebrate the lives of more than 20,000 beautiful souls who made the ultimate sacrifice," said Attorney General of the United States Loretta Lynch, one of the speakers during the service. "And gave what President Abraham Lincoln called the last full measure of devotion in the service of this nation and its people."
United States Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson also spoke at the vigil and mentioned how he had taken upon himself to write letters of condolence to every police department that lost an officer.
"I signed two today. Each time I sign one of these letters, I can’t help but think that there are far too many," he said.
The vigil is normally held at the memorial itself, on the 400 block of E Street, NW, but was moved to the National Mall this year because of construction on the memorial’s museum across the street.
The vigil is a precursor to National Peace Officers Memorial Day, which falls on May 15.