OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy created Peace Officers Memorial Day and dedicated May 15 to commemorate the police officers who keep our nation safe and pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Sixty years later, that single day has become a full week of celebration during the second week of May known as Police Week, and the 51st Security Forces Squadron ensures it remains remembered here.
“For us, Police Week is very important to ensure the heritage of honor and sacrifice that was passed on from previous generations is not forgotten and carried forward in how we conduct ourselves,” said Master Sgt. Nicanor Blausten, 51st SFS section chief.
This year’s event started with a formal memorial service in honor of all defenders and military working dogs that have passed away in the previous year, both civilian and military. The event concluded with a defender gun salute where one round was fired for those who were lost.
“We want to ensure the fallen are still honored and memorialized,” said Blausten.
Police Week continued with various demonstrations to show off 51st SFS capabilities and dedication to their profession and the legacy surrounding it. One event involved a display of military working dog skills.
“As a handler, Police Week shows what we really do as cops,” said Senior Airman Casi Smith, 51st SFS MWD handler. “It lets us show people what our dogs are capable of, in a more positive light, since most people only get to see them in action when something bad is happening.”
On top of demonstrations and memorial services, Police Week was also intended as a time of celebration for Security Forces Airmen to increase morale around the office. All of the events were open to the public so the entire base could celebrate.
“We invited our host nationals to a barbecue to give them a taste of our nation’s culture,” said Blausten. “We want this ceremony to bring together the law enforcement profession with the community we protect.”
As the week closed out, 51st SFS Airmen took a moment to reflect on the hardships their profession has faced due to the political climate over the past year. The negative press surrounding law enforcement as a whole made this year’s Police Week celebrations particularly difficult.
Blausten said, “This particular event was very challenging compared to previous years due to the current climate around law enforcement both worldwide and in the states.”
Despite these hardships and hits to morale, 51st SFS pushed forward and gave Police Week their all, ready to make this year a positive and memorable event. Whether it was during the squadron’s events or their festivities, Osan’s defenders were committed to celebrating their profession.
“I’ll never forget participating in the Police Week demonstration with my working dog Max,” said Smith. “I’m his first handler ever and it was very humbling to see how far he’s progressed since when I first met him.”
Police Week is first and foremost about remembrance and legacy. As it comes to a close on the very day that started the celebration sixty years ago, law enforcement Airmen are reminded to take a moment to remember the past and carry it into the future with them.
“As younger Airmen continue to join our career field, memories of old conflicts and the lives lost in them become fainter and more disconnected from the individuals now serving”, said Blausten. “I hope by taking the time this week to pause and reflect on the service and sacrifice of our career field, incoming defenders will be able to connect to the proud legacy they’re now a part of.”