EVERETT (CBS) – What started as a simple, yet generous gift has turned into a beautiful memorial. It’s a tale of two cities and a Christmas tree that brings them both together to honor a police officer who died far too young.
The trucks rolled up to the Flynn family home in Tewksbury early Thursday morning. Soon, chainsaws were humming, taking down a towering evergreen. The 30-foot tree soared above the house, blocking the front.
“My husband and I wanted to get it removed, so I figured I would just put it on Facebook and hope somebody could use it,” said Katie Flynn. Katie’s post was shared 40,000 times.
The City of Everett noticed, and indicated that the tree would be perfect for their annual Christmas tree lighting.
“They were the first ones to reach out so they got the tree,” Flynn said.
But there was a backstory behind the donation. Four years ago, Everett Police Officer Glen Briley died of a heart attack. Briley was a 19-year veteran of the Everett Police Department. He was 44 when he passed away.
It turns out Briley’s family knew the Flynns, and when the Flynns decided to donate the tree to Everett, they asked that it be dedicated to Officer Briley’s memory.
Briley’s sister Michelle Strong was on-hand as the tree was set up in Everett Square.
“It tugs on the heartstrings, I have to say,” Strong said. “I can’t thank the Flynn family enough. Katie, Billy, Vanessa, Ryan and Gianna, what you guys did in honor of my brother is remarkable.”
The city will host a tree-lighting on Dec. 6.
“The message of peace, love and hope still rings true here in Everett, and it always has,” said Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria.