A couple of weeks ago, I asked for nominations from readers as to who might be the greatest person in Wauwatosa in 2012 – the person who, above all, gave the most to this community and stood for the best of what we all stand for.
The plan was to run a story at dawn on Christmas and let it ride throughout the day – a glowing proflie of that one person who stood out a bit above the many who have contributed so much to making wonderful Wauwatosa an even more wonderful place.
Maybe I should just have done that. Even though circumstances have intervened, maybe I should have just forged ahead with something about all that is good and right about today....
With apologies to that person who was most roundly acclaimed, I just can't do it. I promise that in a day or two, I will get back on that track and give Wauwatosa Patch's most heartfelt thanks to not only that person, but to all who were nominated as citizen leaders of our great city.
That person, and all those people, deserve the applause.
But I just can't go there. There is only one person on my mind at the moment.
Wauwatosa Police Officer Jennifer Sebena was killed – apparently murdered – in the line of duty yesterday, Christmas Eve. We don't know what exactly happened, how or even just when she died. We certainly don't know why.
From what I've been able to learn about her so far, Officer Sebena stood for all that we want and hope for from a police officer and a citizen. She was dedicated, very well-trained and motivated. She was kind and considerate and concerned. She wanted the best for those she was sworn to protect and serve.
Officer Sebena was an officer, yes, but she was also a wife to Benjamin, a wounded veteran. She was a volunteer who worked with young people at her church.
She died on duty, sometime between 3 and 5 a.m., in Wauwatosa Village, on what is called the graveyard shift.
I've gotten to know a number of Wauwatosa police officers over the past few years, and I like all whom I have met. Officer Sebena, I did not know. But I know that she took seriously her vow.
Now, she is dead. Dead by a cruel hand. Shot down at face-blank.
There is only one citizen of the year on my mind at this moment. And it is not only Officer Jennifer Sebena – although she alone has given her life.
Officer Sebena was on duty, on the third shift, where a lot of strange things happen. Any officer wiil tell you that 3 a.m. is the witching hour. Bad things happen then – but bad things can, and do, happen at any hour, on any shift.
Wauwatosa police officers face those things every day, and especially every night while we sleep. They are out there, on patrol, as Officer Sebena was, at all hours of every night.
The Wauwatosa police officer who puts his or her life on the line day and night is Wauwatosa Patch's Person of the Year for Christmas Day, 2012. There can't be any other.
Thank you, officers, for all that you do. Thank you for the many lonely hours you spend when we do not even know you are there.
These are not just the best officers that money can buy – they are the best that money can't buy.
Thank you, Officer Jennifer Lynn Sebena, for giving us your life.
Merry Christmas to Wauwatosa. You may sleep well tonight.