Hundreds of Chicago police officers and their loved ones turned out Sunday morning to honor the department's fallen members and to reaffirm promises to help their families.
The officers took part in the annual St. Jude Police League Memorial March and Service on the museum campus east of Soldier Field.
Wearing their dress uniforms, they formed a steady blue river along Museum Campus Drive to the memorial for the Gold Star families of the Chicago police, the survivors of officers killed in the line of duty.
The event was solemn but also comforting. It was intended to convey that no officer walks the beat alone.
"I'm here for my sister-in-law in the Chicago Police Department," said onlooker Maria Burgos of Berwyn. "She has a certain passion for her work. We want to support her and are very proud of her."
The job is dangerous, said police Supt. Garry McCarthy, but the support network is strong. "It's important that we recognize that you have an extended family. The Chicago Police Department is never going to forget your loved ones," he said.
Speaking for the city "that is so grateful for your commitment," Mayor Rahm Emanuel thanked the police and their families for their courage and sacrifice.
Emanuel and McCarthy led a delegation at the reviewing stand. Many police had their own children accompany them on the march.
The event followed Saturday's Run to Remember, a fundraising event for the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. It has provided more than $2 million in donations to officers' families since 2007, according to its web site.
The foundation is an excellent cause to support, said Tamara Latrice Tucker, who was the fiancée of Officer Clifton Lewis when he was killed during a convenience store robbery last Dec. 29. "They lend a hand, they call, they do so much that you wouldn't think would be done," she said.
The names of 26 officers who died last year were read after the march. The Chicago police honor guard fired a 21-gun salute.