Specialist James Finley, of Lebanon Missouri, was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan a little more than a week ago, on May 31, 2008.
Yesterday, Spc. Finley drove down Jefferson Avenue, a main drag in Lebanon Missouri for the last time. He made the journey from Heritage Baptist Temple on the north side of town to Mount Rose Cemetery, on the south side of town.
Yet, he was not alone.
Family,friends and complete strangers joined Spc. Finley. The Patriot Guard, over 20 strong, escorted the procession, along with local fire and police. Jefferson Avenue was lined with people, from near and far.
The procession was almost two miles long.
Wal-Mart shut and locked its doors.
On Monday afternoon, it wasn't about making money.
Local business owners joined together to buy flags, handing them out to young and old along the procession route.
Rain gently fell as we waited to say our final good-byes. No one moved. No one cared.
We shared umbrellas. We shared stories of family.
We shared our faith in America and we shared our celebration of community.
Specialist James Finley is our hometown hero.
Yesterday, we said good bye.
Yesterday, I was reminded of why I live in rural America.
Yesterday, I said, "Thank you"
Photos by Debbie DiFonzo, Lebanon, MO
May 9th, 2008