The younger brother of slain MIT police officer Sean Collier has launched an effort to establish a national holiday to honor the uniformed men and women who are the first on the scene, placing themselves in danger in emergencies.
'We don't really have anything honoring our first responders,' said Andrew Collier, 24, who has the backing of U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano. 'I think they should be honored as much as anyone else who sacrifices for their country.'
Sean Collier, 26, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer, was shot dead the night of April 18 allegedly by the Tsarnaev brothers, suspected of carrying out the marathon bombings, authorities say.
Andrew Collier came up with the idea of a first responders holiday on Memorial Day when he realized that May holiday is mainly to recognize the loss of soldiers who were killed in action. He noted that in recent years, first responders – including cops, firefighters and paramedics – have become an integral part of homeland security, playing heroic roles during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., and the Boston Marathon bombings.
'When events like this happen – the marathon, Newtown, Colorado – we're reminded of how much they do and the sacrifices they make,' Collier said.
He launched a petition drive on the website Change.org and already has more than 2,000 signatures. Capuano spokeswoman Alison Mills said the congressman 'will be filing legislation to honor first responders by establishing a federal holiday.'
'We are in touch with Andrew and have offered to help any way we can,' Mills said.
Collier said, 'It will be a long process, but it's something I think should be done. Not just for my brother, but for all of them.'
The proposed holiday is just one of many ways Collier hopes to pay tribute to his slain brother.
'I'm going to fill the void in my life by honoring him,' Collier said.
To sign the petition, go to change.org/firstresponders.