Thursday, March 08, 2007

Jeremy Barnett laid to rest

It was a day of religious and patriotic ceremonies befitting a fallen hero.

Army Sgt. Jeremy D. Barnett, who died Feb. 24 at age 27 of injuries suffered in combat in Iraq, was laid to rest Wednesday under gray skies, typical of the March day that began with a brief snowfall.

Full military honors were bestowed at the committal service in German Cemetery near Mineral City, Barnett's hometown. A cold north wind buffeted a field of American flags as family and friends gathered at the grave site next to the flag-draped casket.

Six members of an Army Honor Guard from Fort Knox, Ky., served as pallbearers.

An additional member assisted the six in firing a 21-gun salute, and yet another played taps.

Before the committal and after the service in the Finefrock-Gordon Funeral Home in Magnolia, a lengthy motorcade was greeted along the route by firetrucks from at least nine departments and hundreds of well-wishers waving American flags.

Students at Sandy Valley lined the school property next to Route 183, and many youngsters from Mineral City School were on hand as the procession proceeded south on High Street there.

As the procession reached its turning point to the hilltop cemetery, ladder trucks from the Dover and Bolivar fire departments formed an arch holding an American flag.

"I think we honored Sgt. Barnett with dignity and respect, and that's what we wanted to accomplish," said Brig. Gen. Thomas M. Cole of Detroit after the committal.

Cole presented the casket flag, which was ceremoniously folded, to Barnett's wife, Stephanie Barnett of Parker Heights, Texas. Two other folded flags were passed over the casket to add special meaning before being presented, one each for Barnett's mother, Michele "Shelly" Fiddler Barnett of Hartville, and his father, David Barnett of Mineral City.

Cole and the Rev. Mark Trotter, pastor of New Philadelphia First Baptist Church, officiated the funeral service at Magnolia where Stephanie Barnett also received her husband's Bronze Star and Army Commendation medals.

"He was a young man who not only wanted to serve his country ... he did it well," said Trotter as he gave those gathered to honor Barnett a glimpse of the young man. Trotter said Barnett, who had accepted Jesus Christ as his savior at a young age, "today is doing better than he's ever been."

In his few short years, Barnett had come to understand the basic truths of God's plan for salvation, Trotter said. He added that Barnett had served his country and his fellow man, "and if he could, would serve God the rest of his life."

Barnett's response to the call from his country was: "Here am I, send me," Trotter said. He said Barnett's response to the Army's request for a volunteer on the day he suffered his fatal injuries was the same, and he answered the same when called upon to be an organ donor.

Barnett's 24-year-old sister, Natalie Barnett of Mineral City, paid tribute to her brother with a poem she wrote. "My heart will heal but will never be the same," she said, with tears streaming down her face.

"As I am writing this I realize it's not a goodbye, because someday we'll be together side by side," she continued. "I will see you in my memories and even in my dreams. I love you Jeremy. ..."

"Our nation is at war," Cole told those assembled. He said it's a massive undertaking, including 150,000 soldiers and tens of thousands of other military personnel.

"But war is fought and won on a very personal level," he continued. He said soldiers are put in harm's way to safeguard our freedom and our nation.

Soldiers serve with their fellow soldiers in small unit numbers, and they face danger shoulder-to-shoulder and look to each other for support, "and they're able to cope because of that support," Cole said.

Barnett, he added, was a fun-loving soldier who was a natural leader. He said Barnett had worked hard to get where he was, and the soldiers he served with will never forget him.

"Jeremy sacrificed everything," Cole said, citing such things as the opportunity to love and be loved, to grow and watch a family grow and to enjoy the freedoms he fought for. "He's one of those American heroes who gave everything so that those he loved and his fellow Americans could receive those things.

"Today, we are here to regret that Sgt. Barnett is in this vault and also to thank God that soldiers like Jeremy Barnett have lived. ... May God bless his family, and God bless America."

From the Repository

Related Link:
Jeremy Barnett remembered

Related Link:
Jeremy D. Barnett dies of injuries from land mine