First Chattanooga Shooting Victim Is Laid To Rest
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
It's been a somber week in Chattanooga, Tenn. The funeral for Marine Staff Sergeant David Wyatt was held yesterday. He was one of the five people who were killed more than a week ago when a gunman attacked two military facilities before he was killed by police. From member station WUTC, Michael Edward Miller explains how the city came together to grieve yesterday.
MICHAEL MILLER, BYLINE: The private service was only for family, friends and dignitaries, so thousands of people lined the streets for 20 miles between the church and the Chattanooga National Cemetery to pay their own respects. Tandra Bell was somber as she waited in the 90-degree heat to honor Staff Sergeant Wyatt.
TANDRA BELL: Well, I am an American. And of course when this happened, I felt loss also. There was five of my American brothers that were murdered.
MILLER: Mike Wooden says he wanted Wyatt's family to know Chattanooga loves them. He also thought it could help change the city's focus away from the tragedy.
MIKE WOODEN: I don't want to say closure, but I think with people coming together like this, we're going to be united.
MILLER: Wyatt grew up in Arkansas, but his family wanted to bury him here in Chattanooga because of his love of the community and the community's outpouring of support. The 35-year-old was married with two children.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOTORCADE)
MILLER: People were quiet as the motorcade rumbled by with white hearses followed by Patriot Guard Riders on hundreds of motorcycles. For half an hour, the procession moved slowly through the cemetery gates. Onlookers held American flags high in the air. Others saluted and removed their hats.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOTORCADE)
MILLER: As the last motorcycles came through, the somber mood lifted a bit and some took out their phones to snap pictures, but not Kevin Collins.
KEVIN COLLINS: I wanted to take pictures and I was actually in conflict 'cause I wanted to take pictures and share this experience with as many people as I could. But at the same time, you want to honor him. So you're kind of torn.
MILLER: In the coming days, there will be four more ceremonies just like this one for Sergeant Carson Holmquist in Grantsburg, Wis., Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan in Springfield, Mass., Petty Officer Randall Smith in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., and Lance Corporal Squire Skip Wells in Woodstock, Ga. For NPR News, I'm Michael Edward Miller in Chattanooga. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.