ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Officer Jillian Smith was remembered Monday night as the all-American girl turned police officer. Hundreds gathered to honor her in front of the Mount Olive Baptist Church in Arlington.
Officer Smith, an Arlington native, attended Mount Olive Baptist Church all her life. So, it was fitting that a light so bright should be honored there.
Many arrived before sunset to honor Officer Smith, who had fallen in the early dawn of her career. But there were many at the vigil, like University of Texas at Arlington student Christine Nicholson, who never knew her. “It’s beautiful to see all the people out here, but that she had to die at such a young age is just sad,” Nicholson said.
Jillian Smith was only 24 years old, but those who knew her say her light shined bright in those short years.
Arlington Police Chaplain Harold Elliott spoke at the vigil. “When the light glows, we will remember her light that has been glowing throughout her lifetime, through this church, through this city, through the police department,” he said.
Smith had wanted to become a police officer all her life. Two weeks out of field training, she died protecting an 11-year-old’s life. “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends,” Chief Theron Bowman said.
And so, longtime friends came to say goodbye to Officer Jillian Smith, and remember a light lived bright.
Anita Ortiz was a neighbor who had watched Smith grow up with her granddaughter. “I felt she’s family. It’s in my heart. I have to be here,” Ortiz said. “She did a great thing, what she did. But she was a beautiful child.”
Blue glow sticks were given to the crowd who gathered at the vigil. The blue represented Officer Smith’s sacrifice and those who sacrificed their lives before her.
A final farewell is planned for Tuesday morning, again at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Arlington.