ALPENA - Silence and blue lights filled the APlex Wednesday evening during the 13th year of Project Blue Light, a ceremony recognizing law enforcement and firefighters. Sheriff Steven Kieliszewski, master of ceremony, said Project Blue Light is about recognizing the heroes in law enforcement and the firefighters who paid the ultimate price, laying down their lives in line of duty.
"Seventy-six firefighters lost their life in line of duty across the United States this year," Alpena Fire Department Chief Bill Forbush said. "They are risking it all to protect others, putting their lives on the line for citizens. I'm honored to give tribute to those who gave their lives for our protection."
Guest speaker Judge Michael Mack of the 26th Judicial Circuit Court said it was a great sense of honor and humility to address the community during this year's ceremony.
News Photo by Emily Siegmon
After the posting of the colors by the Alpena Area Public Safety Honor Guard, children of sheriff personnel lead the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance, for the 13th year of Project Blue Light in Alpena.
"We expect so much from police and emergency personnel," Mack said. "We need to remind ourselves why they embraces those duties, possessing the deepest devotion while entering the zone of danger, far too many leave without their life intact."
Mack said it was right to honor fallen emergency personnel, along with their families and loved ones who share disproportionate amounts of grief for their loss.
Retired Officer Dan Foley of the Wyandotte police department, read the 2012 Michigan police officers line of duty deaths including officers with Michigan ties - Officer Celena Hollis, and Officer Patrick O'Rourke. He also read the line of duty deaths of officers with ties to the Alpena area, including Sheriff Charles Lynch, Trooper Larry Forreider, Officer Gerald Carpenter, Sheriff Duane Badder, Deputy Carl Darling Jr., Trooper Bryon Egelski, Deputy Brian Meilbeck, Deputy Hagop "Jake" Kuredjian, Deputy Ryan Seguin and Trooper Jeffrey Werda.
In honor and memory of the fallen officers, a dark room flashed with blue lights that were simultaneously lighted by the audience. The room was silent expect for the haunting tune of "Amazing Grace," performed by bagpiper Justin Sytek and at the opening of the ceremony where the children of sheriff personnel led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Project Blue Light was hosted by the Alpena County Sheriff's Office and coordinated by Gloria Egelski, mother of former Trooper Bryon Egelski. This year's invocation was led by Pastor Jack Williams of Beaver Lake Community Church.
For more information or events, surviving families and coworkers of Michigan's fallen law enforcement can visit Michigan Concerns of Police Survivors website at micops.org.
Emily Siegmon can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5687.