In 1962, President Kennedy declared May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the surrounding week as National Police Week.
Tuesday night, a candlelight vigil was held in Washington, D.C. as part of the celebration.
The vigil is a way to give special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.
A northern Michigan fallen officer was among those honored.
Trooper Paul Butterfield was shot and killed during a traffic stop in Mason County last September.
Butterfieldâ??s name is one of 286 added to the memorial, a hundred of whom died last year.
The memorial now honors more than 20,000 people.
Throughout the day, thousands of friends and families were able to rub copies of their loved oneâ??s name etched in the stone.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the crowd, saying the country recognizes the bravery of the fallen officers.
â??They gave much and expected little,â?? said Holder. â??Tonight in this place of honor and remembrance they are surrounded by many who knew them, loved them and traveled from across the country to mark their losses. So many of you also knew them as doting parents and loving spouses. As loyal, compassionate, and in some cases stubborn and outspoken friends. As youth sports coaches and boxing instructors.â??
Another speaker echoed Holderâ??s words.
â??Behind every name on these walls are stories and memories that burn brightly tonight and every night. Stories that inspire us and memories that will not be extinguished. We will always remember these American heroes.â??
The vigil is sponsored by National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
The 26th annual vigil was delayed several hours by severe weather.
During the ceremony, the names of all of the fallen officers were read, along with the dates of their deaths.