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Poem: The Thin Blue Line Flag

A retired sheriff addresses what the Thin Blue Line flag means to him and so many officers who wear or have worn the badge


Calling all police poets! Police1’s column highlights the inspirational, moving and funny poems written by our readers.

This poem is by Sheriff Barry Hillestad (retired) of the Day County Sheriff’s Office and Roberts County Sheriff’s Office in South Dakota. Sheriff Hillestad writes: “I have struggled for months with all of the news and comments about the Thin Blue Line flag and its perceived meaning and what it stands for. I am not addressing any of the complications that arise by altering the US flag to show it as a blue line flag, but rather simply addressing what the original Thin Blue Line flag means to so many of us that wear or have worn the badge. All the words finally burst to the surface and were affixed to print in about an hour the other day.”

Sheriff Hillestad previously wrote the poem, “When a Son Honors his Dad,” which captures the heartbreaking moment a young son honors the memory of his fallen father.

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The Thin Blue Line Flag

I was born on a seamstress’ table,

The hands that sewed me were deft and able.

Three pieces of cloth were cut, stitched and tacked,

A central blue line with edges of black.

There was nothing but honor meant in its design,

And I would become known as the Thin Blue Line.

To honor police officers both living and dead,

Was the original purpose of that cloth and thread.

I was a symbol of honor, respect and pride.

Meant to rally good cops and remember those cops who died.

I was to be a symbol of the blue,

To show we protect and serve all, not just a few.

A symbol dividing evil from good,

The cops were the blue, holding the center where we stood.

We placed ourselves square between the sides,

Willing to do our duty even at the cost of our lives.

Then the meaning was lost when someone claimed,

That all cops are evil and should be ashamed.

That my blue line was racist and hateful,

That I was a fascist, I was disrespectful.

For a time, the opposition was winning the fight,

I was hidden away, removed from public sight.

I was declared a distraction and a disgrace,

That I shouldn’t be flown in any public space.

Forgotten was the meaning for which I stood,

Honor, righteousness, safety and overall good.

That a few good men and women answer a call,

To stand up to chaos, and to stand up tall.

I represent those cops who are willing to fight,

I represent cops who want to do it right.

I represent the cops who don’t care about color,

They care about law, order, rights and valor.

The blue line that adorns this banner,

Is not meant to be disrespectful in any manner.

It means that there will always be a few who will stand,

Against injustice, hatred and what evil may plan.

And now that I think about it, and as I reflect,

I’m not sure what will be, or what to expect.

I will remember my true purpose, so please let me brag,

I’m proud to be called the Thin Blue Line flag!

Sheriff Barry Hillestad (Retired)

©February 26, 2023. All Rights Reserved

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