SHOW LOW — Area residents and visitors may have noticed a lot more flags than usual whipping in the breeze over the weekend and some may have even noticed a few at half-staff.
May 15 was National Peace Officers Memorial Day and also National Armed Forces Day, which created a very awkward conflict of presidential proclamations involving flag protocol. President Joe Biden signed a national proclamation for National Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week 2021 which included a call for flags to fly at half-staff.
Biden later edited his proclamation, because National Armed Forces Day, officially celebrated the third Saturday of May, meant that the flags must be raised to full staff. The last time May 15 landed on a Saturday happened eleven years ago in 2010. Par for the course, since the last 15 months have been beyond extraordinary.
Last year was a hard year, with five Arizona police officers killed in the line of duty. Those lost included White Mountain Apache Police Department officer David Kellywood, Peoria Police officer Jason Judd, Phoenix Police Commander Greg Carnicle and Tohono O’odham Nation police officer Bryan Brown.
In a local observation of National Police Week/National Peace Officers Memorial Day 2021, marchers of all ages and walks of life gathered to trek the streets, the roads and the boulevards from Show Low to Lakeside in a Back the Blue march to show support for law enforcement and also pay tribute to those who gave their lives in the line of duty.
Some walked alone, head down. Some traveled in large groups. Most waved thin blue line flags and wore special Back the Blue T-shirts. Drivers tooted their horns and babies waved.
When asked why they were there, nearly everyone said something similar to what Joel Hart said, “We’re here because I think, I hope, Americans are finally recognizing we have to come back together again and work to find common ground. We are more similar than we are different. Law enforcement is there for us when we need them most and we have to stand up for them. We got their 6!”