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Peace Officers Memorial Day in the United States

Peace Officers Memorial Day is held annually in the United States on May 15 in honor of federal, state and local officers killed or disabled in the line of duty. It is observed in conjunction with Police Week.

Peace officers memorial day
Peace Officers Memorial Day honors federal, state and local officers killed or disabled in the line of duty.
Peace Officers Memorial Day honors federal, state and local officers killed or disabled in the line of duty.
©iStockphoto.com/Mikhail Bistrov

What Do People Do?

Many people in the United States will pay tribute to officers who lost their lives or were injured in their jobs. According to Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS), about 140-160 officers are killed in the line of duty each year and their families and co-workers are left to cope with the tragic loss.

Many businesses and community members across the nation, especially those who lost family members, friends or colleagues who were local officers, will lower their flags in remembrance of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. Some police departments hold an annual law enforcement memorial ceremony on this day.

Each year, the Fraternal Order of Police and its Auxiliary organizes a national memorial service on the day, drawing thousands of people from many parts of the United States. The service is followed by the placement of a memorial wreath at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington DC. On this day, people are also reminded of the need to be vigilant against all forms of crime.

Public Life

Peace Officers Memorial Day is an observance but it is not a federal public holiday in the United States. Some people may take some time off work, such as an extended lunch break if a memorial service is held at noon, to attend a memorial service on this day.

Background

The idea of a Peace Officers Memorial Day came into effect on October 1, 1961, when Congress asked the president to designate May 15 to honor law enforcement officers. President John F Kennedy signed the bill into law on October 1, 1962. Each year, the president of the United States proclaims May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week of each year during which such May 15 occurs as Police Week.

According to the Legal Information Institute, the president is requested to issue a proclamation to: designate May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day; to direct government officials to display the United States flag at half staff on all government buildings; and to invite state and local governments and the people to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

Peace Officers Memorial Day Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday TypeWhere It is Observed
SatMay 152010Peace Officers Memorial DayObservance 
SunMay 152011Peace Officers Memorial DayObservance 
TueMay 152012Peace Officers Memorial DayObservance 
WedMay 152013Peace Officers Memorial DayObservance 
ThuMay 152014Peace Officers Memorial DayObservance 
FriMay 152015Peace Officers Memorial DayObservance 
SunMay 152016Peace Officers Memorial DayObservance 
MonMay 152017Peace Officers Memorial DayObservance 
TueMay 152018Peace Officers Memorial DayObservance 
WedMay 152019Peace Officers Memorial DayObservance 
FriMay 152020Peace Officers Memorial DayObservance 

Quick Facts

Peace Officers Memorial Day is held annually in the United States on May 15 in honor of federal, state and local officers killed or disabled in the line of duty.

Peace Officers Memorial Day 2016

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Peace Officers Memorial Day 2017

Monday, May 15, 2017

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Name in other languages

NameLanguage
Peace Officers Memorial DayEnglish
Día del Recuerdo de los Oficiales de PazSpanish
קציני שלום יום הזיכרוןHebrew
ضباط السلام يوم الذكرىArabic
평화 임원 현충일Korean
Peace Officers Memorial DayNorwegian
Gedenktag für “Peace Officers”German

List of dates for other years

Related holidays

  • Memorial Day – Monday, May 30, 2016
  • State Holiday – Tuesday, January 19, 2016, Monday, April 25, 2016, Tuesday, April 26, 2016, Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Other holidays in May 2016 in the United States

United Nation Holiday on May 15, 2016

Fun Holiday on May 15, 2016

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