25 January 2010

Hometown Hero

The small town of Westwood, New Jersey - right near my home town - came to a standstill last Thursday when thousands turned out to welcome home Marine Sgt. Christopher Hrbek, who was killed the week before in Afghanistan.

... [A] hearse bearing Hrbek’s flag-draped coffin rolled slowly past his high school and elementary school – and hundreds of students lining the sidewalk and holding small flags. ...

Some people clapped softly. Others dabbed their eyes with tissues. Many just placed their right hand over their heart and silently mouthed “thank you” to Hrbek’s wife, Jamie Lynn Wengerter, and other relatives riding in a convoy of SUVs and cars.

There were senior citizens and young men in camouflage National Guard uniforms. There were painters who laid down their brushes and hair stylists who set aside their scissors, joggers in bright jackets and business women in long wool coats. ...

With pipers striking up a rendition of the Marine Corps hymn at the town’s center, the procession passed under a giant American flag that hung between ladder trucks from the Emerson and Woodcliff Lake fire departments. Then, the marchers turned on to Westwood’s main business district, where fire fighters from dozens of neighboring towns and New York City stood shoulder-to-shoulder, each one holding an American flag. ...

Behind the fire fighters – some in rows three deep – stood thousands of ordinary people. On other streets, hundreds more waited.

I have no words, except to thank Sgt. Hrbek for his service and to tell him and the people of Bergen County how proud they make me. Semper Fi and rest in peace, Hero.

Article and photo gallery.

No comments: