Blue Mass Opens Police Week 2018
A combined pipes and drums unit of Montgomery County Police, Virginia State Police, D.C. Metropolitan Police and CBP directed by Agent Allen Terry, a Border Patrol operations officer, opened the 24th annual Blue Mass on Tuesday.
Held at Washington, D.C.’s St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, the mass is a memorial to those law enforcers killed in the line of duty. Members of the U.S. Border Patrol, Air and Marine Operations and the Office of Field Operations joined hundreds of law enforcers, first responders, families and friends in paying their respects. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 129 officers died in 2017 and another 47 officers were killed in 2018.
Two CBP officers lost their lives in 2017. Border Patrol Agent Isaac Morales died on May 24, in El Paso, Texas, after he confronted an assailant with a knife on May 20. On Nov.19, Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez died from injuries from an incident still under investigation in the Big Bend Sector area of operation.
Under cloudless skies and a blazing sun, bagpipes droned and drums boomed and rattled as the kilted performers whirled their drumsticks and mallets. The unit led formations of regional city, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies under a huge American flag suspended from the extended ladders of two fire trucks parked on each side of the street near the cathedral.
Terry described the selected tunes, “Minstrel Boy,” “Wearing of the Green,” “Scotland the Brave” and “Rowan Tree,” as “celebratory tunes that mark this occasion.”
Adding to the pageantry, eight U.S. Park and D.C. Metropolitan Police on horses positioned side-by-side stood in review.
The formations marched to the church, proceeded up the steps, passed through the building’s rear vestibule and back to the street in a circuit that repeated. Craning onlookers packed both sides of the street snapping photos.
Sixteen clergy in white robes, including the archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, wearing a mitre cap and carrying a scepter, joined the marchers for the final entry into the church, now filled by nearly 300 law enforcers, families and friends, along with CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. The mass included reading the names of the fallen followed by trumpeters playing taps.
“The Blue Mass is an occasion to confirm our appreciation for those who accept the task to stand between us and harm,” Wuerl said. “May we never forget the great price paid by our sisters and brothers in uniform, so that the rest of us can try to live in and build a world of true peace, where everyone is free to go about their lives.”
The mass began in 1934 as an opportunity for police to gather and pray for their fallen comrades. It now takes place in combination with Police Week, another event that recognizes and honors law enforcers who died in the line of duty. Police Week began in 1962 and takes place this year from May 7-16 with significant CBP participation.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.