KENNEWICK, Wash. - Hundreds of people gathered in Kennewick Monday to mourn the loss of a fallen soldier. Robert Ellis was killed last month while serving in Afghanistan.
The community was there to help the friends and family, to recover, remember, and mourn their loss.
The family told those at Monday's service that they had been trying to hold themselves together. But on Saturday when they drove into town with the roads lined by hundreds of supporters, waving American flags, they broke down weeping in the cars that took them and their beloved soldier home.
"You know everybody here that's a veteran signed that blank check for and up to include their life. Unfortunately this young man, they cashed his check," said Gulf War Veteran Jeanie Nelson.
Local fire crews hung a giant American flag between their ladders as a welcoming gate to the funeral service. And again, those complete strangers formed a color guard out in front of the church, a perfect setting for the family to reflect on the life of their soldier.
Following the funeral the procession brought family and friends to a Kennewick cemetery where Ellis was honored with a 21 gun salute.