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Obama Pays Tribute to Fallen Police Officers

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama Tuesday honored police officers who died in the line of duty and their families, saying the nation is “forever in your debt."

“Every American who wears the badge knows the burdens that come with it -- the long hours and the stress; the knowledge that just about any moment could be a matter of life or death. You carry these burdens so the rest of us don’t have to,” the president told an audience of thousands gathered outside the Capitol Building for the annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service.

“The rest of us can never fully understand what you go through. But please know that we hold you in our hearts -- not just today, but always. We are forever in your debt. And it is on behalf of all of us, the entire American people, that I offer my thoughts, my prayers, and my thanks,” Obama said.

The president paid tribute to three officers who sacrificed their lives to save others: Detective John Falcone of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Deputy Bryan Gross of Douglas, Wyo.; and Deputy Sheriff Suzanne Hopper of Clark County, Ohio.

“Our country’s law enforcement officers use force when they have to. They are well armed and they are well trained. But they never forget that theirs is a mission of peace,” the president said. “Their job is to keep the peace, to allow all of us to enjoy peace in our neighborhoods and for our families. And today, with heavy hearts, we honor those who gave their lives in the service of that mission. Their families are in our thoughts and prayers, as we remember the quiet courage of the men and women we have lost.”

Following his brief speech, the president spent over half an hour meeting with the families of the fallen. Tuesday marked the second time the president has addressed the event.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio