Law enforcement officers will be honored and remembered in this year's annual Project Blue Light ceremony on Thursday at 7 p.m. The event, taking place in the Alpena High School Auditorium, will feature guest speakers Alpena County Prosecutor Ed Black and Lin Emmert, vice chair of the Law Enforcement Memorial Fund in Lansing and a past president of the Michigan Concerns of Police Survivors.
"Project Blue Light is to honor and remember law enforcement officers here in Alpena, including firefighters, who've made the supreme sacrifice and also those who continue to protect us on the street," said event coordinator Gloria Egelski.
Egelski lost her son, Bryon, in the line of duty, and the COPS organization was there to support her, she said. Eleven years ago, she started the program in Alpena.
"Blue is symbolic of peace, and by displaying blue lights, it's like sending a dual message - to support America's peace keepers and that the coming year will be a year of peace," Egelski said.
The ceremony sponsorship is rotated between the Alpena Sheriff's Department, the Alpena Police Department, the Michigan State Police Alpena Post and Alpena Community College.
"I hope it's thought provoking," said Alpena Police Chief Kim Miller. "Police officers are peace keepers. That's our primary function."
Pictures of the fallen men and women are kept by the college's criminal justice program, and they will be displayed on the night of the event. Egelski said last year, over 200 people attended the ceremony, and she is hoping for 300 this year.
"I don't feel our law enforcement (officers) get enough recognition for what they do," she said. "It just makes you feel good to see the blue lights and know that people are thinking about the law enforcement."
Project Blue Light was started in 1988 by COPS in Philadelphia where a woman lost her son-in-law in the line of duty and her daughter later that year. She displayed two blue lights in her window during the holiday season to remember them. The idea was adapted to include all those who lost their lives while serving in law enforcement.
Erika Fifelski can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5688.