CHICAGO — On a cold December night, newly lit Christmas trees light up the Gold Star Families Memorial and Park, bringing some comfort and joy to families who have lost a Chicago police officer in the line of duty. 

Maria Marmolejo, chairwoman for Chicago Police Gold Star Families, lost her husband, Officer Eduardo Marmolejo, just before Christmas in December 2018. 

“Seeing those blue lights, it represents hope,” she said. “Light, in general, brings hope, so hope and always remembering.” 

Officer Marmolejo and his partner, Officer Conrad Gary, were struck and killed by a South Shore commuter train while investigating a shooting suspect. Nearly four years after her husband’s death, Maria Marmolejo says it’s still hard but gathering with other Gold Star families eases some pain. 

“Having something to uplift my kid’s spirits as well as my own, even just seeing comforting smiles and faces, is always helpful,” she said.  

Phil Cline, executive director for the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, hopes people passing by the lit Christmas trees take a moment to honor fallen brothers and sisters in blue. 

“I hope that they just take a minute and realize that they’re able to come down here and be here safely,” Cline said.  

The names of 595 CPD officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty are listed on the Gold Star Memorial Wall. 

“As we light this tree, let every light represent the lives they led. As these lights shine, let these lights represent the legacies they left,” said Chicago police Supt. David Brown.  

In addition to hope and remembering, Maria Marmolejo says the lights on the tree represent love and support. She says every bit of support she and other Gold Star Families receive is noticed.  

“Honestly, just showing up and sending a card, those little things do matter,” she said. “I appreciate everybody supporting and the Gold Star families as well.”