WILMINGTON, MA — Following a recent vote from the Board of Selectmen, Wilmington residents will celebrate the life and legacy of Sean Collier, and honor his sacrifice, every January 3rd on “Sean Collier Day.”
Collier, an MIT police officer who was killed in the line of duty following the Boston Marathon Bombings, grew up in Wilmington and graduated from Wilmington High School in 2004. He went on to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice with Honors from Salem State College in 2009. Collier was a member of the Somerville Police Auxiliary Department from 2006 to 2009 where he volunteered hundreds of hours of service, becoming the youngest to ever achieve the rank of sergeant. He also interned with the Somerville Police Department’s records bureau.
Collier was sponsored by the Somerville Police Department to attend the MBTA Police Academy, where he finished at the top of his class and achieved the highest GPA of any officer who graduated from the academy. He would become a member of the MIT Police Academy in 2012. Outside of his regular duties, Sean took part in the MIT Outing Club and Outdoor Adventure Group in attempts to get to know the students he protected and better serve the university community.
Collier, who was killed in April 2013, would have been appointed a police officer for the City of Somerville in June 2013, achieving a lifetime goal. The Department posthumously welcomed Collier to its ranks in August 2013, assigning him Badge #310 and then retiring it permanently in his honor.
Acting Selectman Chair Greg Bendel listed several of the ways the town of Wilmington has honored Collier, including the creation of a playground on the shores of Silver Lake in 2015, the planting of a Tree of Life at Rotary Park across from the police station in 2017, and a student-led effort to install a monument in the high school’s courtyard in 2019.
MIT Police Chief and former longtime Wilmington resident John DiFava thanked the Selectmen for the Sean Collier Day Proclamation.
“I’m extremely pleased, but far from surprised. This is Wilmington at its best. We have an obligation to remember those who have made that sacrifice,” said DiFava. “On behalf of the MIT Police, MIT, and myself, thank you for what you’re doing.”
In addition to DiFava, approximately a dozen police officers were in attendance to show support to Collier and his family, including Wilmington Police Chief Joseph Desmond and former Somerville Police Chief Mike Cabral. Wilmington High School Principal Linda Peters, Wilmington Superintendent Dr. Glenn Brand, members of the Wilmington School Committee, and Veterans Director Lou Cimaglia were also present.
State Senator Bruce Tarr and State Representative David Robertson read citations from the State House and offered remarks.
“Sean Collier was a young man who found out what he wanted to do with his life — protect us all,” said Tarr. “He did it with such passion, enthusiasm, kindness, caring and compassion. His life story is an example to all of us to follow and to honor.”
Each member of the Board of Selectmen offered comments to Collier’s mother and step-father — Kelly and Joe Rogers — who were also in attendance.
“We, as community, still mourn with you and still want to celebrate and honor Sean’s memory,” said Selectwoman Judy O’Connell. “This is a loving community that sees you and sees the merit of what Sean did during his life. We’d like to do whatever we can to continue his legacy today, tomorrow and in the years to come. We hope you see tonight as a small token of recognition for his his contributions to the town of Wilmington, the police community, the state of Massachusetts, and the world.”
“I think it’s important that my children and future generations are always reminded of Sean’s life,” said Selectman Greg Bendel, who spearheaded the effort to establish Sean Collier Day. “What great life Sean lived – life of service, sacrifice, and willingness to protect others. Sean’s life will be celebrated on January 3, his birthday, every year in the Town of Wilmington.”
This year, on January 3, members of the Police Department, Board of Selectmen and Town Administration will lay a wreath at Collier’s Tree of Life at Rotary Park and hold a moment of silence at 2:30pm.
Photo of the Wilmington Board of Selectmen, Police Chief Joe Desmond, State Senator Bruce Tarr and State Representative David Robertson with Sean Collier’s mother and step-father — Kelly and Joe Rogers — and MIT Police Chief John DiFava. Photo courtesy of Wilmington Police Department.
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