What is the meaning of the phrases 'the Thin Blue Line' and 'the Thin Red Line'?

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Thin Blue Line Meaning
The term the thin red line was first coined in the 19th century from an expression used by William Russell the Times correspondent during the Crimean war. He used the expression " thin red streak tipped with a line of steel" which was popularised into "the thin red line". It has come to mean in general terms a thinly spread military force holding back the enemy.
The Thin Blue Line is a 20th century adaption of the expression and represents police officers. Traditionally, the police were dressed in blue. This line represents that the police are the only thing standing between peace and law-abiding citizens and total anarchy. It is a very thin blue line. Origins William Russell was referring to the 93rd (Sutherland Highland) Regiment withstanding the charge of the Russian cavalry at Balaclava defending the British camp. They were the only unit standing between 2,500 Russian cavalry (although not all of these were involved in the charge) and the unprepared camp. The tactics of the time for the British Army had the infantry stand four deep to present a rolling volley by line. To receive a cavalry charge they would form into a square to protect themselves as the cavalry charge would easily break a line of infantry. Colonel Colin Campbell was so contemptuous of the Russian Cavalry's capability he deployed his men into only two lines not four to cover more ground, protect the camp and present more firepower per volley. He did not form a square. The 93rd fired three volleys causing large casualties to the charging Russian hussars and cossacks and they withdrew. The Regiment had to be restrained from following them in a counter attack by him "93rd, damn all that eagerness!". Development
The expressions about the thin red line was later adapted to cover the British Army defending the Empire and it has also been kept alive in the media - The thin red line are 1964 & 1998 Hollywood films based on James Jones's 1962 book about WWII at Guadalcanal (where he served). The original Balaclava battle has been commemorated in music as well in a well known Piping tune and even a modern metal bands song. The thin blue line was a Ben Elton British TV comedy series about the Police with Rowan Atkinson (1995) and the title of several documentaries.
Other uses
In modern times the thin red line expression has been also been taken up by the firefighting community especially in the USA where similar to the police idea it represents a thin line of fireman protecting the population.
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