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Thousands of candles lit up the night sky on the National Mall in Washington DC on Thursday evening to honor fallen law enforcement officers.

More than 4,000 members of law enforcement and their families participated in the candlelight ceremony, which paid tribute to 701 officers killed in the line of duty over the years, including 434 officers killed in 2019 and 2020.

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“Today we recognize the nobility of the law enforcement profession. We pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the sacrifice of protecting our communities, and we remember them,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Meyercas said.

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The names of 701 fallen officers were added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. They will forever be engraved on the walls of the memorial and are now part of the 22,611 fallen law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty throughout American history.

“We are gathered here today to honor the seven hundred and one fallen officers whose names have been added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. We gather because to mourn, remember and honor those we lost. When we can do it together. I’m honored to be here with you personally,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said.

Garland said any call could be an officer’s last call. He mentioned DEA Special Agent Michael Garbo as well as Senior Inspector and Deputy U.S. Marshal Jared Keyworth, who recently “made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty,” he said.

Garbo was killed this month after a barrage of gunfire at an Amtrak station in Tucson, Arizona, as a task force made up of local and federal law enforcement agencies conducted a routine train check for illegal guns, drugs, money and other items. Had been.

Thousands of candles are seen at the Washington Monument on Thursday evening on the National Mall in Washington DC.  (FBI)

keyworth died in a car accident last month Responding to a felony case near Florence, Mississippi, reports said.

“Yet despite those risks, you run into danger to protect the public from harm. Your extraordinary courage and dedication is an inspiration to all of us,” Garland said.

As the pandemic spread last year, law enforcement and first responders continued to work on the streets. Garland said nearly two-thirds of those who died in the line of duty last year were COVID-related deaths.

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“Through all this, and despite the increasing risks to your health and your safety, you have continued to protect the communities you serve,” he said. “And as we gather here today, we also know that we continue to face many other challenges in addition to the pandemic.”

In addition to the virus, Garland discussed the threats and challenges to law enforcement as violent crime and gun violence continue across the United States.

“The opioid epidemic and the threat of fentanyl menace in all of our communities and Internet crimes, especially online child sexual abuse, have reached historic levels,” he said. “To many people, these challenges may seem insurmountable, but not to you.”

During the surveillance, Meyerkas discusses his feelings for law enforcement when his parents brought him to America. He said it meant “everything” for his parents to see a police officer or sheriff, knowing they risked their lives to protect and serve the public.

From the age of 12, he said his mother would ask him to approach an officer, shake hands and say “thank you.”

“The respect for the men and women of law enforcement is still a part of me today,” he said. “Let it be so for our whole country.”