Project Blue Light


I have buried friends who were killed in the line of duty. I have looked into the eyes of my colleagues’ children, children who have learned that their Daddy or Mommy may not come home tomorrow night. I have watched everyone around me grapple with their own mortality.

But I have healed.

I have given and accepted more hugs than I expected. I have found hidden reservoirs of courage, of serenity, of conviction, and of humility. I have shared thoughts and feelings I’d never shared before. I have been reminded again to cherish every minute. I have spoken to people who have changed their views of police officers after seeing so many stoic men and women cry - after seeing how many of us found the strength to continue our work, choking back our tears as we pried accident victims from badly damaged cars and mediated violent domestic disputes. I have seen citizens offer the best of themselves because they felt the pain and shock of our losses.

Because of those losses, I’m never in the mood for Christmas. I grimace at the thought of cheerful holidays without my friends. Every year, Christmas creeps up on me like a predator. I am stunned by the reminders of it as I drive through town. Each turn reveals more festive houses decorated in lights. Sometimes I map out detours around the most cheerful ones.

But I always end up thinking of the story of the Grinch. There was something about how Christmas comes no matter what. It comes even when there are no bells, no whistles, no toys, no roast beast. It comes even when our loved ones can no longer share it with us. It’s there to raise our spirits at least once each year. It’s there to give us time to remember and to share.

The message of the Grinch’s story draws me out of the depression. It propels me up the stairs to the attic where I keep my Christmas decorations. I begin to smile at the lights and I sing the songs. Each evening leading to Christmas, I take a few moments to look for a new Christmas display to brighten my spirits, to remember that life goes on.

I’ve already decorated my house. My Christmas ornaments are traditional with one exception; I follow the custom of Concerns of Police Survivors ( ), the custom of Project Blue Light.

According to COPS, Project Blue Light began in 1988 when the organization adopted the idea of displaying blue lights for the holidays to honor the officers who serve and protect us while remembering those who have been killed in the line of duty.

“The color blue is associated with law enforcement.” explains former COPS National President Shirley Gibson. “One single blue light in a window makes such a dramatic and important statement.”

So, each Christmas, I make that statement.

From December 1st until January 1st, I shine a blue light in my front window, a single blue light.

I do it to honor my friends who were killed in the line of duty. I do it to show people that I think about the sacrifices made by police officers every day. I do it because I appreciate the officers who protect my friends and family as we tuck our children into bed on Christmas Eve.

I do it because I remember the smiles of some very special cops.

Jill Wragg is a retired police officer in Massachusetts.
She can be reached at

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