Ashland 'Blue Mass' Honors Safety Officials

By KBJR News 1

June 20, 2013 Updated Jun 20, 2013 at 6:19 PM CDT

Ashland, WI (NNCNOW.com) --- Everyday law enforcement, fire–fighting and rescue officials put their lives on the lines to save the lives of strangers. On Wednesday, those heroes gathered to reflect on each others work during a special annual celebration.

Looking down the pews at Our Lady of the Lake church in Ashland, you might think it was your typical Wednesday service, but if you look closer you see a sea of blue.

"The emergency service workers run to places that people run away from. Law enforcement officers run to the sound of gun shots, firefighters run into burning buildings, and the emergency ambulance people respond to calls that people are afraid to look at," said Dan Clark, Bayfield County Sheriff.

Wednesday's Blue Mass event was originally created just for law enforcement officers, for the one's in blue, but in the last decade it's expanded to include all emergency agencies in the region.

"It was typically put on in honor of law enforcement officers, which is where the word blue came from, and after September 11th it encompassed a lot of emergency service workers," said Clark.

But this year's event took on a different tone, it's dedicated in memory of Luke Voigt the son of a Wisconsin Trooper, the Iron River boy died last summer when the boat he was in on Lake Superior was struck by lightning.

Organizers say it's tragedies like this that hits close to home for their fellow officers.

"It's a tragedy that Luke died after a lightning strike and that kind of brought it home on how fragile even our own emergency service workers can be and how they face the same tragedies that even the same people they help face," said Clark.

And as the community gathers to remember the young life of Luke Voigt, they say they also want to celebrate the courageous effort of their own.

"I'm here tonight to honor and show my respect for all the law enforcement, police, fire, first responders and dispatchers throughout the Ashland and Bayfield counties," said Ashland Fire Chief, Wayne Chenier.

Safety officials hope this ceremony will give the community a greater appreciation for the services they provide.

The Blue Mass event of Wisconsin, leapfrogs each year between towns. Next year's ceremony is expected to be held in Washburn.