By Jim Bloch
In the midst of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, many citizens are thankful that law enforcement officers have not yet been needed to play a major role. Younger people have helped pack the bags of older people in supermarkets. Food charities like Forgotten Harvest have attracted donations and volunteers. Yo-Yo Ma, the celebrated cellist, launched “Songs of Comfort” on Twitter. “This is for the healthcare workers on the frontlines — the Sarabande from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 3. Your ability to balance human connection and scientific truth in service of us all gives me hope. #songsofcomfort.”
Grocery store workers have received more recognition the law enforcement officers. So far, police officers have largely been peace officers.
But with uncertainty still the defining quality of the pandemic, the St. Clair City Council took a moment to deliver early recognition of National Police Peace Officers Day, May 15, and National Police Week, May 10-16.
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“Whereas the Congress and the President of the United States have designated May 15, 2020 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and May 10-16 as National Police Week,” read Mayor Bill Cedar at the council’s regular meeting on March 16. “The members of the St. Clair Police Department play a central role in safeguarding the rights and freedoms of all those residing in or visiting St. Clair. The men and women of the SCPD unceasingly provide a service to this community. It’s important to always remember Police Chief John D. MacDonald, who gave his life in October 1962 while serving and protecting this community.”
Ironically, 1962 was the year that President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week surrounding it as National Police Week, following a joint resolution of congress.
The city of St. Clair honored MacDonald with a bronze plaque on Memorial Day 2015, known as the Fallen Heroes Memorial. The memorial is among a number of sculptures on the lawn of the senior citizens complex on North Riverside Avenue.
MacDonald died Oct. 12, 1962 when he was struck by a vehicle while directing traffic at a St. Clair High School homecoming football game against Algonac High. MacDonald was stationed at the corner of Adams and Sixth Street at the time of the accident.
Cedar recognized May 10-16 as Community Police Week.
The motto of the week is “Heroes Live Forever.”
“I think in the community, there’s a number of citizens that are anxious to recognize the police department however they can,” said Dave Gilles, the post-service officer of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit #382 in St. Clair, accepting the proclamation. “A number of churches have done that. The more we looked at finding a possibility to recognize the police department in the community, we recognized that National Police is not celebrated locally. So that’s why we requested the proclamation. This will give others in the community a good opportunity to look at the police department and offer their congratulations and pride in their accomplishments.”
In Washington, D.C., the pandemic has triggered the cancellation of the week of events marking the annual recognition.
“The current crisis that our nation and the world is facing has resulted in the cancellation of public gatherings in DC during National Police Week 2020,” said the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum on its website. The museum “wants you to know that this crisis will not deter us from honoring the 2019 fallen. On Wednesday, May 13, 2020, we plan to march forward in solidarity with a virtual Candlelight Vigil and the reading of the names that can be watched from anywhere in the world. Then, as the future becomes more certain and the end of this crisis is near, we will begin to make plans for a live reading of names to honor our 2019 fallen officers. You have our commitment that the fallen will not be forgotten, and we will not rest until they receive the honor that they so rightfully deserve.”