About 100 people turned out for the Town of Marlborough’s annual Blue Light Tree Lighting Ceremony, held Sunday, December 3 at Marlborough Town Hall.
This was the 11th year the town has hosted the event, which honors police officers who have given their lives in the line of duty. A total of 107 police officers have lost their lives in this manner from December 12 of last year to today. Accordingly, people who attended the ceremony hung 107 light-bulb-shaped ornaments commemorating these officers.
The annual event was first launched by Officer Curtis Fulton, who also served as emcee of the ceremony. As its name denotes, the tree’s lights are blue when it is illuminated – a color that has traditionally been associated with police work.
Fulton pointed out that this tradition dates to early 1800s England, when Sir Robert Peel wanted the attire of police officers in London to be distinct from British soldiers – who wore red coats. “So, he chose blue, which was carried over to our country when the first municipal police department was established in New York City,” Fulton noted.
The term “thin blue line” also came into use to represent officers as a group – “men and women, your family, neighbors, maybe your sons and daughters, all members of the public, just like everyone here today, who put on a blue uniform, body armor, and appropriate tools and weapons, in order to stand in the gap serving and protecting both strangers and neighbors alike,” Fulton said.
Because of their service obligations, police officers must forego family celebrations, children’s events at school, kids’ sports, vacations, and other events. “This list could go on and on,” Fulton said. “The officers whose lives we honor tonight, however, have given up everything – with little or no thought of the consequences.”
Six additional ornaments were hung to commemorate the six officers who have died thus far in 2023 in New York State. These ornaments replicate the officer’s shield with a thin blue line on a black background. They are designed and fabricated each year by Marlborough Police Officer Bruce Griffing and his family.
“This is the first year in New York that no officer died violently,” said Fulton. “All of our New York officers died from 911-related illnesses from when they participated in rescue efforts at the site of the two collapsed towers of the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001. One New Jersey trooper is included in our list as he was assigned to a New York post.”
Fulton also suggested that people throughout the town show their support for the police through a blue window candle, lights on a tree, or a porch lamp. “It’s so important not to forget,” he said. “For it is remembering, however painful, that we bear the seeds of hope for a better tomorrow.”