Sunday, March 25, 2007

Blake M. Harris laid to rest

Six-year-old Tyrus Harris followed his grandfather out of the church, bouncing the small American flag attached to the stick in his hand. His grandfather, Paul Harris, carried a larger flag, folded into a tidy triangle by two soldiers, and handed to him by a brigadier general.

Sitting in the front pew of the First Baptist Church of Jonesboro, Paul Harris wept when he received that flag. His body shook.

Escorted by soldiers, the family moved slowly out of the memorial service, while a piano played the hymn, “Onward Christian Soldiers:” ‘Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane, but the Church of Jesus constant will remain.’

At the front of the sanctuary, stood a white cross covered in red, white and blue, silk roses. Also, the empty United States Army uniform of Staff Sgt. Blake M. Harris.

During the service, friends, family and supporters honored God and Country. The church’s pastor and youth pastor spoke of Jesus Christ and Blake Harris.

“Because of Blake Harris, I will always and forever be proud to be an American. I will never be ashamed of this country,” said Rev. Dean Haun. “The only people that ever died for me are our Lord Jesus Christ and American GIs.”

Blake Harris died on Thursday, March 15, outside of Baghdad. A remotely detonated bomb exploded while Harris led American soldiers on a foot patrol. He was the 3,206th U.S. soldier to die in Iraq since the war began. He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery next week.

“Blake Harris knew the Lord. He loved the Lord and now he is with the Lord,” said Larry Lawrence, the church’s youth minister. “When you think of Blake, the first thing you remember is his smile and that look in his eye, like he was up to something... His life counted, will continue to count and will never be forgotten.”

Blake Harris grew up in the Jonesboro Baptist church. His parents, Paul and Anne, moved to Jonesboro a few months before he was born. He graduated from Lovejoy High School in 1997 and went off to boot camp a week later. He would have been 28 years old, on March 30. He was on his third tour of duty in the Middle East.

Lawrence read a letter from one of Harris’ childhood friends, Sam Dunn, one of the young men who went to church with Harris, was in choir with him and in trouble with him, before they parted ways at their high school graduation.

“Somehow, those moments are more distant than I’d like,” Dunn wrote. “[The last time we spoke], he spoke with distinct clarity about the pride he had in our country and his confidence in the mission at hand.”

Brandy Harris, Blake’s wife, led the way out of the church, wearing black. She was followed by Anne, Paul and Tyrus. The piano at the front of the church played the hymn, and then the choir stood up, in robes of white and red, on Friday afternoon, and sang “America the Beautiful.”

From the News

Related Link:
Blake M. Harris dies of injuries from I.E.D.