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Members of the Cobourg Police Service Pipes and Drums along with members of the Cobourg Police Honour Guard and Northumberland OPP members marched on Parliament Hill in Ottawa for the 42nd annual Canadian Police and Peace Officers Memorial Service on Sunday, September 29, 2019.
The honour roll added the name of Lesa J. Zoerb from Correctional Service Canada who was killed in the line of duty in a motor vehicle accident on October 7, 2018.
Thousands of police and peace officers from across Canada and beyond marched on Parliament Hill for the ceremony that started sharply at 11 a.m.
The murder of Ottawa rookie Cst. David Kirkwood on July 11, 1977 , launched a response that, today, has become the nationally recognized ceremony honouring police and peace officers killed in the line of duty. Following Kirkwood ’s senseless killing, Ottawa police officers vowed to keep, his memory alive and to ensure that the magnitude of his sacrifice and that of others like him, would never be forgotten by Canadians.
Accordingly, on Sunday, September 24, 1978 , a special service and tribute was held on Parliament Hill. The site selected was Parliament, the place where laws are made that directly impact on police officer safety and, ultimately the quality of life for us all. Following that first ceremony, a number of features have become tradition and, at the same time, some modifications to the event have occurred as well.
The ceremony was expanded to honour other police officers murdered in the line of duty and this criterion of inclusion was itself modified years later to include all officers killed in the line of duty. This current criterion is applied retroactively, and names of officers killed in the line of duty from years gone by, are now being added to the Memorial stone. The original ceremonies were limited to police and correctional officers killed but that criterion was expanded in 1995 to include all peace officers so that all areas of law enforcement are now included in one single ceremony.
In 1998 the Canadian Government officially proclaimed the last Sunday of September of every year as Police and Peace Officers’ National Memorial Day. On January 17, 2003 Canadian Heritage declared the last Sunday of September of every year as a nation wide flag half-masting on all federal buildings and establishments in Canada, including the Peace Tower, from sunrise to sunset in honour of our fallen officers. These official proclamations are a fitting sign of respect, not only to those gathered on the hill, but also for those who made the ultimate tragic sacrifice to keep our communities safe and our environment protected.
In 1978 the first Memorial honoured 14 officers. In 2019 the names of over 880 members were engraved on the Honour Roll. The glass panels provide a lasting tribute to our heroes, and ensure that future generations are reminded of the supreme sacrifices of our fallen members.