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On Wednesday, April 30, I travelled to Abilene with my mom and my niece to pay tribute to the fallen law enforcement officers of Abilene and Taylor County.
It’s always an honor to be a part of the service and to be able to honor my grandfather, deputy/jailer Jessie Bryan “Jake” Wasson Sr. His “End of Watch” came on Jan. 12, 1967.
This year, it was a special joy to watch my niece, Delise White, who is a Wise County jailer, answer roll call for her great-grandfather and know that she is following in his footsteps – as well as those of my dad, who also spent his life protecting and serving.
My story of being a survivor of a fallen officer is a little different than most. My grandfather did not die in a horrible accident or shooting like so many of the survivors we meet and get to know. I was only 8 years old when he succumbed to an injury he incurred in the line of duty.
His name is on the memorial wall at the Sheriff’s Association of Texas in Austin and the memorial on the Capitol grounds.
At the memorial service, we heard the tragic story of the Granbury SWAT officer who died in a gun battle less than a year ago, told by one of his team members.
We have talked many times to the family of Abilene Motor Officer Rodney Holder, who died in a motorcycle accident just four years ago (the anniversary of his End of Watch was just the day before).
As we listened to the detailed stories of each death for the 17 officers – including one K-9 – who were killed in the line of duty in Texas during 2013, we were reinforced with the knowledge that life can change in the blink of an eye, just as it did last week for the family of Wise County Justice of the Peace Terri Johnson.
So as we approach National Police Week, I would like to say thank you to all law enforcement officers for protecting and serving. I pay tribute to those who have given their lives to protect me, my family and each of you.
And a special thank-you to the survivors of the fallen officers, for the ultimate sacrifice of their loved ones.
The next time you pass by an officer in the store or on the street, it would be entirely appropriate just to say “Thank you.”
I know I will.
Donna Bean is classified advertising manager for the Wise County Messenger.