Mr. Speaker, on Christmas Eve, 2010, about 1 month ago, most Americans were with their families and their friends enjoying the holiday season, the joy and happiness of being together at that special time of the year. But holidays do not come for peace officers; they work all the time, especially on holidays. One such officer was Ann O'Donnell. She was a University of Houston police officer. She liked to call herself Unit 429. She was on patrol December 24, 2010, about 1 o'clock in the morning. She was the first to respond to a possible kidnapping in the Houston area. She sped to the scene, but her vehicle went out of control and she crashed and was killed.
This is a photograph of Officer Ann O'Donnell, 24 years of age. Her father, Jim O'Donnell, who was close to his daughter, normally talked to his daughter sometime between 2 o'clock and 4 o'clock in the morning during those nights that she worked. On this day, this Christmas Eve, he received no such phone call from his daughter.
Ann was a resident of Houston, Texas, and Galveston, Texas. She had been a peace officer for only 13 months. She loved being a Texas police officer, and Mr. Speaker, she was good at it. She is the daughter of Nonette and Jim O'Donnell. Her father, Jim, said about his daughter, Ann will never experience the joys of marriage, having her own children to cherish and to grow by her example. As a father of four kids, three of them daughters, three of them about the same age as Ann, I understand the close relationship between a father and a daughter. That is a special relationship. But no parent wants to lose their child before their time.
Ann was a compassionate police officer. She not only arrested the bad guys; once she arrested an underage minor for an alcohol offense. Rather than send this child to detention, she called the parents and got the parents involved in this child's life. She was from Ball High School in Galveston, Texas. She went to the University of Houston and Galveston College. In her youth, she learned from the Galveston County police officers about being a peace officer. She wanted not only to capture outlaws, but to help the good people of our community.
Mr. Speaker, police officers are the last strand of wire in the fence between the fox and the chickens, and Officer O'Donnell was one of those officers. They, like Ann, do society's dirty work, and they go and serve and are first responders to public safety. Ann was such a person.
Ann was the 252nd female police officer killed in the line of duty in this country since 1796. Already this year, in 2011, 14 police officers in our country have given their lives for the rest of us. Ann died protecting and serving the people of Texas, and at Ann's funeral 500 police officers paid her honor in the rain. Harvey Rice of the Houston Chronicle said it best about her funeral, Officers filed out of the church while the bells tolled Hark the Herald Angels Sing. The officers re-formed ranks and stood at attention again in the rain as the casket was carried down the steps and placed in a black hearse. At the cemetery, the rain-drenched officers again gathered as a rider less horse followed the casket to the grave site and bagpipes played Amazing Grace. Officers fired a 21-gun salute, and two buglers played Taps.
Amazing person, this Officer Ann O'Donnell. We admire her and thank her for being a Texas peace officer, and for her life that she gave for the people. We mourn her loss, but Mr. Speaker, we are grateful that such a person as Officer O'Donnell ever lived.
And that's just the way it is.