Community Says Goodbye To Fallen Soldier
Hundreds of people gathered in Zapata today to say goodbye to a soldier who was killed in Afghanistan nearly two weeks ago.
Some traveled from miles away to pay their respects, But because of threats made by protestors, those visitors also made the trip to make sure others were respectful in this time of mourning.
Annette Garcia has the story from Zapata.
An emotional tribute to Pfc. Ira Ben Lanningham in Zapata Tuesday morning.
His flag draped casket, was led from Rose Garden Funeral Home to Our Lady of Loudres Church, by some who didn't personally know the soldier, but felt moved to take part in the procession.
“We're here for the family. We escorted the body from McAllen to here, Now we're going to escort him to the cemetery in Mission.”
“We got up at four in the morning to come this way.”
Dozens lined Zapata’s Highway 83, a sign of their appreciation to a man they say gave his life for our country.
But on this day of mourning and paying respect, many were forced to deal with threats made by a group known for picketing soldier’s funerals.
“We’re here to see that there’s no disrespect come to this young man or his family or country or this good city of Zapata.”
Several groups were prepared with large flags to shield Lanningham's family if any protestors attended.
“We rallied to be here and make sure everything goes like it should.”
Zapata Sheriff's deputies say no protestors were spotted.
Instead those who attended today’s services say they hope people will leave with a much better message.
“The message I hope people take away from being here is hope.”
“To honor somebody who has given his life so we can be here so we can have freedom is the greatest sacrifice this man has made. We honor that and we respect that.”
In Zapata, Annette Garcia Pro 8 News.
Lanningham was laid to rest at the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery in mission, Texas.