Here in Wisconsin we take time out from our political turmoil to reflect on a young man who left us all too soon.
Officer Craig Birkholz of the Fond du Lac Police Department, a decorated veteran, was essentially ambused Sunday morning by a crazed man who also critically wounded another officer and his canine partner before taking his own life.
Just 28 years old and married for less than two years, Officer Birkholz, a former Pleasant Prairie resident and Tremper High School graduate, Officer Birkholz already had a track record of commendable service. Birkholz , an Army veteran, served two tours, one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. He survived multiple mortar attacks and had marveled that he had gone through two wars without firing a single shot. He was an honors graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh who had hopes of becoming a federal officer.
On Sunday morning Officer Birkholz was felled by gunfire on an ordinarily quiet Fond du Lac street -- a senseless attack that reminds us all of the dangers our police officers and firefighters face every day as they do jobs most of us wouldn't. All of us (including this ex-cop) who have served our communities know that we should live each day as if it is our last because one day we could be right.
As we mourn with and for the Birkholz family, it is fitting to laud the men and women of the Kenosha Police Department, especially Chief John Morrissey, who appropriately are treating the loss of Officer Birkholz as if it was one of our own, supporting the Fond du Lac Police Department in planning and executing funerals in Fond du Lac Wednesday and here in Kenosha on Friday and Saturday.
Those who have had the sad duty to attend one of these funerals will understand the impressive symbolism of hundreds of squad cars and officers who descend on a community to honor a fallen comrade. We also know that politicians will extend condolences, maybe make a speech, and there will be commentaries, like this one, decrying violence and the loss of human life all too soon.
All of this, however, was eclipsed Wednesday by a young girl who stood out in the sleeting afternoon to pay her respects. She held a handmade sign that simply stated, "THANK YOU FOR SERVING AND PROTECTING US!"
This young lady's words sums up the feeling of a grateful and mounful state.