WILMINGTON — The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously on Monday night to designate Jan. 3 as Sean Collier Day. While Chair Lilia Maselli joined virtually, acting chair Greg Bendel welcomed distinguished guests in the audience from the Wilmington Police Department, Wilmington Public Schools, Somerville Police Department, MIT Police Department, and also Collier’s parents.
Bendel delivered Collier’s background, from graduating WHS in 2004 to earning his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with honors from Salem State in 2009. He then volunteered in the auxiliary police department and served as the records clerk at Somerville Police Department, attending the MBTA Transit Police Academy at the same time.
He became a member of the MIT Police Department in 2012. Though he was killed in the line of duty in 2013 after the Boston Marathon bombings, he was appointed to the Somerville Police Department and his assigned badge was retired permanently.
Bendel said that Collier dedicated his life to protecting others and he hoped to see future students honor and remember his sacrifice. He then opened up the floor for those in attendance to comment.
MIT Police Chief John DiFava, also a former Wilmington resident, spoke up to say that Collier was the best of them. He also thanked Bendel for putting this proposal together.
“We have an obligation to remember those who have made that sacrifice,” he said.
He added that he was pleased but not at all surprised, knowing Wilmington’s sense of community and respect for police.
Wilmington Police Chief Joe Desmond commented that this would be a way for the community to celebrate Collier’s life.
“Here we are eight years later still standing here and showing that we remember.”
He declared that the members of the police department were proud to be in attendance that night.
Some other guests that were invited to the meeting included Wilmington’s delegation at the State House.
Senator Bruce Tarr spoke to Collier’s compassion, kindness, and enthusiasm for protecting life. He said Collier’s bravery and courage set an example for everyone, and he’d be glad to remember it every year.
“When we didn’t know what was going to happen next, Sean Collier was on duty, standing tall, ready to face the threat.”
He also presented citations from the state and offered congratulations to the Collier family.
In addition to presenting two more citations, Representative Dave Robertson added that Collier represented the spirit of Wilmington.
When it came time for the board to respond, Selectman Judy O’Connell shared that Collier was a hero whose legacy would live on through these efforts.
“Tonight is a small token of our appreciation for his gift of life and contributions to the Town of Wilmington, the State of Massachusetts, the world, and the police community. He matters and he has always mattered,” she said.
She remembered knowing him around town and from stories told about him at his memorial.
Gary DePalma mentioned that he had met Collier and seen his fervor for law enforcement.
“It’s because of men and women like Sean that we can stand here today and smile and be proud.”
He shared the importance of praying for and supporting police officers knowing the dangers that they step into every day.
Kevin Caira said that Collier’s life was amazing and far too short. He wanted to see his memory kept alive. Lilia Maselli also shared her appreciation and support for honoring Collier’s sacrifice and service every year.
Bendel closed by recognizing Collier’s best traits: his kindness, empathy, and generosity.
“It’s so important that my children and future generations be reminded of his life, service, sacrifice, and willingness to protect others.”
He explained that Jan. 3, Collier’s birthday, would be a great day to celebrate his life every year. He also presented a gift to Collier’s parents.
Lastly, Collier’s father responded saying that he appreciated the town recognizing his son on his birthday. He said that the police officers there tonight were heroes, too, and thanked them for their efforts.