The Thin Line system is a way of honoring service-based professionals who work as first responders and Military Armed Personnel. The thin line system outlined here focuses on public safety and first responders. There are many times throughout the history of public safety where knowing you are part of the team that protects and serves the people throughout the world, just makes you over-the-top proud. Serving the citizens at a municipal (State, County, City, Township) level means being prepared for whatever happens. It’s a calling for those who want to make a difference, those who want to serve, it’s more than a J.O.B., it becomes for many, a way of life.
After September 11, 2001, Americans united, flew their flags with pride and unity. The public was proud of those law, fire, and EMS professionals who went to work every day, knowing that they may not make it home that night. They began to recognize that there was more behind public safety as well, a strong, quiet presence, the calm voice in the night, and the lifeline for first responders… the 911 dispatchers and call takers.
Law enforcement is a proud profession and is strongly united as part of the “thin blue line”. It represents the concept of our police as frontline heroes, keeping society safe by protecting the innocents and stopping our country from plunging into violence and chaos. Those in law enforcement, and those who love someone who is in law enforcement, understand the thin blue line. They are proud of the flag flying with that thin blue stripe running through the middle.
The origin of the thin blue line was borrowed from the British Infantry. In 1854 the Scottish Highlanders successfully held back a Russian cavalry charge, referring to themselves as “thin red line”. In 1911 the phrase thin blue line appeared in a poem by Nels Dickman Anderson. It reads,
“The thin blue line that fights for right,
That never bends the knee to might,
Has ever since it knew God’s light
Fought dark Oppression in his lair,
And routed wrong from valleys fair,
Sweet Peace and Plenty leaving there.”
By the 1950’s the thin blue line was established as a symbol for all law enforcement personnel to represent the courage and sacrifice of law enforcement.
But wait, there’s more!
From the origin of the thin blue line spurred on the thin lines for other first responder public safety professionals. Originally, the red line came about to describe the outgunned military unit, holding firm against attack.
The Thin Red Line was developed to show support and solidarity within the fire service personnel and to honor the injured or fallen firefighters. It’s meant to inspire those who are forced to face their own fears and grasp every ounce of courage and strength deep in their blood.
EMS has a thin white line, differing from the others because the background flag is blue instead of black. The line represents all EMS personnel who go forth to render aid to those who are injured, sick, or need medical care.
The Thin Grayline, sometimes referred to as the silver line, honors the correctional facility officers, parole, and probation officers among other similar professions. The mission of the creation of the thin gray line is to bring awareness of the correction field to the public.
Then, between the thin red, white, and blue lines within the public safety field, the thinnest gold line (not to be confused with yellow) is meant to symbolize the loyalty and strength of the rarely seen heroes. The thin gold line is dedicated to the life and profession of a 911 dispatcher. The introduction of the thin gold line has highlighted the 911 dispatchers and the estimated 240 million 911 calls they process each year throughout the United States. The 911 profession continues to gain visibility and respect within the industry, bringing with it a new understanding of what exactly, a 911 dispatcher does. In 2013, a poem was written about the thin gold line that signifies recognition and dedication to the public by those who are rarely seen.
“Between the thin red line and the thin blue line,
Lies the thinnest gold line. This gold line
represents those who rarely are seen
but mostly heard. The calm voice in the
dark night; the golden glue that
holds it all together. Dispatchers.”