Lorraine Bond always keeps a blue light in her window in remembrance of her son Donald, a Hamilton County Sheriff's Department deputy killed in the line of duty in September 2001.
Deputy Bond was killed by Marlon Duane Kiser after the deputy interrupted Mr. Kiser's arson attempt at a local fruit stand, according to Times Free Press archives. Mr. Kiser was sentenced to death in November 2003 and now is on Tennessee's death row.
Along with sparking her memories, Mrs. Bond's light also serves as encouragement for current officers patrolling the area.
"It just lets the officers know as they go down the street serving that someone's thinking about them," Mrs. Bond said.
For those who don't shine a blue light year-round, Christmas is a good time to remember local officers killed in the line of duty as well as those serving now, officials say.
Concerns of Police Survivors Inc., a national grief support organization for families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, sponsors Project Blue Light. In addition to putting blue lights in holiday decorations and windows, residents can tie blue ribbons to vehicle antennas to show support, according to the organization.
"It's like getting a pat on the back," said David McGlumphy, who lives in Red Bank and strings blue lights across his house. "It's just reassurance that people are thinking about them."
Project Blue Light began in 1986 after a woman wanted to remember her son-in-law, Philadelphia police Officer Daniel Gleason, who was shot as he and his partner investigated reports of vandalism in the area. The woman also wanted to remember her daughter, who was killed in a car accident that same year and was a major supporter of Concerns of Police Survivors.
Mr. McGlumphy put up blue lights for the first time this year after hearing about supporting officers that way a few years ago. He said he plans to make it an annual tradition, and he encourages other residents to do the same.
It's important to recognize the men and women who are willing to lay down their lives daily for people they don't know, he said.
"For me, that's heroic," Mr. McGlumphy said. "That's every bit as heroic as when people say they support their troops. Our police are our troops right here in town, protecting us. And so, if by putting up a few blue lights I can say thank you, that's the least I can do."