The Texas Rangers are legendary for their dedication, skill and heroism. Unforgettable names like John Coffee "Jack" Hayes, William "Big Foot" Wallace and Manuel T. "Lone Wolf" Gonzaullas are embedded in our history.
The hard-charging William J. "Captain Bill" McDonald, said to have inspired the phrase "One Riot, One Ranger," also gained fame for this motto: "No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that's in the right and keeps on a-comin."
Generations of Texas peace officers have embraced those words and have gained well-deserved reputations for determination, professionalism and excellence. They wear the badge of policemen and women, sheriffs, deputies, constables, corrections and detention officers, game wardens and other offices.
Peace officers cover rural and urban Texas. They work our streets and highways, as well as airports, schools, waterways, parks and jails - wherever they are needed. In addition to fighting crime, they serve on the front line during disasters and emergencies and help safeguard us from terrorists. Many are tireless community volunteers.
The Texas Law Enforcement Code of Ethics emphasizes the high standards of the profession. "As a law enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve the community; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder, and to respect the constitutional rights of all persons to liberty, equality, and justice."
The work of peace officers presents daily risk and danger, sometimes leading to tragic consequences. With that brings more examples of the dedication and heroism of our peace officers. We can never thank them enough, but we can show our support and respect.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of National Night Out. Texans across the state will gather in citywide and neighborhood events to generate support for anticrime programs, to strengthen citizen partnerships with law enforcement agencies and to put criminals on notice that we are fighting back to keep our communities safe.
You may want to check with local organizers about the date for National Night Out in your area. Because of summer temperatures, some Texas communities are changing the date of this year's National Night Out to Oct. 7.
I was privileged to be in Corpus Christi last year on National Night Out. There is no more effective tool against crime than a community that is united against it.
No one said it better than President Ronald Reagan, a strong supporter of National Night Out. "Such citizen action reaffirms those values of community, respect for the law, and individual responsibility that are so much a part of our national heritage…Strong, safe communities don't just happen. They are built by people who care and volunteer their time and energy to make the community a good place to live."
Congress, too, has an obligation to do all it can to provide support and protection to our peace officers. I am pushing the Daniel Faulkner Court and Law Enforcement Protection Act, which is aimed at strengthening penalties for criminals who target law enforcement officials and federal judges.
It also would curb frivolous lawsuits filed against police officers and streamline the appellate process for those murderers who receive the death penalty for murdering a judge or police officer.
As we remember the rich heritage of Texas law enforcement on National Night Out, let's reaffirm our commitment to the rule of law and the people sworn to uphold it.
It's a good time for all who respect the badge to honor those who wear it.
John Cornyn is a U.S. Senator for the state of Texas. Readers may contact him via telephone at (202) 224-2934.