Each May, we honor and memorialize the brave men and women who have given their life in the line of duty. Our department, cities, county, and state each offer ceremonies that offer us a chance to remember those that we lost and reflect upon the danger we choose to face each day. The National Law Enforcement Memorial and its yearly ceremony bring together law enforcement from across our country and a few of our neighboring countries.

Last year, we lost SDPD Officer JD De Guzman. While he did not serve in our department, many of our members and employees knew him personally or worked with him over the years. His loss rippled through our detention facilities and stations. As I reviewed the photos from his memorial service, the one that struck me most was of his daughter, clutching the American flag from his coffin. I remembered seeing his son at the memorial wake at the DSA—overwhelmed with sadness hidden in anger.

Although so appreciated by the families of those killed, there is no service, no “celebration of life,” no memorial ceremony that will soften the hard truths of names carved into the stone wall. They were taken and will never return. These are the names of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughter, wives, and husbands. None of which committed any crime, only committed themselves to a life protecting us from those who would.

Each of these ceremonies in May focus on the lasting memorial that grows each year. Since 1791, there have been more than 20,000 names carved on the National Police Memorial in Washington, D.C. This year, the wall grew by 394 names, 143 of those of officers lost in 2016. The wall offers a place for reflection, but its tranquility often betrays the anguish left behind by each loss. We honor their service and their sacrifice, while only sharing a glimpse of the sorrow their families face for a lifetime.

During the month of May, we will all take a moment to reflect on our friends, co-workers, and family members that we've lost. If you didn't have a chance to attend the official ceremonies, perhaps take a moment to visit the regional memorial at the County Admin Center, or one of the many other memorials throughout our county dedicated to law enforcement, and remember that not a single one of these men or women wanted the attention or spotlight brought upon them. Each of them just dedicated themselves to a career of public service. Each of them made the same choice we make each day.

And also take an extra moment with your loved ones. Remember that they too sacrifice, that they too make a choice to support you each day. May is always a month of reflection, and this year make sure to include your family in that process.