This past Saturday, a playground was dedicated to the memory of MIT Officer Sean Collier at Silver Lake in Wilmington. Officer Collier was a Wilmington native and attended the Wilmington Public Schools before moving to Somerville where he embraced the Somerville community as his own. He was killed by the Boston Marathon bombers on April 18th, 2013.
The program opened with the presentation of colors by the MIT and Wilmington Police Department and Boston and Wilmington Fire Department Honor Guards. The Boston Children’s Choir sang the National Anthem as a plane carrying a banner honoring Sean flew overhead. Speakers included Wilmington Town Manager Jeffrey Hull, who spoke about the history of Sean growing up in the town of Wilmington. A former teacher spoke about Sean’s unselfish attitude and always looking out for others. Somerville Police Captain Michael Cabral told some personal stories about Sean, telling how he had joined the Somerville Auxiliary Police and volunteered hundreds of hours to community events before becoming a civilian Somerville Police employee. He was hired a records clerk and became an assistant technology officer. Sean loved Somerville. Sean asked Captain Cabral, (who was acting Chief at the time) to help him to be able attend the Transit Police Academy as a self-sponsored student officer, attending on his own time and his own expense, about $3000. Sean graduated first in his class academically.
MIT Chief John DeFava spoke of how Sean had embraced the MIT community, especially the International students, many of whom came from countries where the police were feared or not trusted. To this day, Sean is spoken of almost daily on the MIT campus and recently he had a research paper done in his memory. Chief DeFava said that there are many reasons why people become police officers, but “few are born to wear the uniform; Sean was one of the few”.
The playground project was funded by the “Where Angels Play Foundation”. The mission of Where Angels Play is to create joyful places to play. To provide hope, recovery and a return to family values in the wake of senseless violence and tragedy. The foundation has funded seventeen other playgrounds along the east coast following tragedies including the Sandy Hook School shooting in December 2013 provided the funding of the patriotic and law enforcement themed playground structures. After the ribbon cutting ceremony, the kids couldn’t wait to try it out. The red, white and blue playground structures display safety messages as well as an MIT Police patch with Sean’s badge number 179.
Former New England Patriot player Joe Andruzzi was also there and spoke in support of the work of the foundation.
Sean will never be forgotten in Wilmington or in Somerville.
For more photos, visit the web site of Where Angels Play Foundation, http://www.whereangelsplayfoundation.org