Dunedin, Florida-- From Tampa to Dunedin, crowds lined the streets with flags, signs, and sadness for a fallen soldier.
The reason behind their determination, waiting hours for the motorcade of Army Spc. Zack Shannon, could be summed up by the words of six-year-old Jacob Rooks: "Zack died for our freedom."
From the intersections of Clearwater to the sidewalks in front of Dunedin High School, one word resonated: hero.
Shannon was killed on March 11 in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. He was the first graduate of Dunedin High School and its JROTC program to ever be killed in action.
"Zack made a difference," says Commander Rick Schock, who taught Zack at Dunedin High School. "Zack was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was unfortunately killed in action. He wanted to fly helicopters, he wanted to be in the Army and when I last saw him, he was very, very happy."
"I think he is a hero, and I'm so sorry we've lost one of our boys," says Donna Hornung, whose daughter is friends with Shannon's brother. "I just hope the family knows that they're in our thoughts and prayers."
Instead of being buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Shannon will be laid to rest in Dunedin. A scholarship has already been set up in his honor, with money raised from selling bracelets with Shannon's name on them.
"[The motorcade] is so much the right thing to do, and to see our community turn out for our young man- it's really touching and it brings tears to my eyes. It really does," Schock says. "Zack, rest in peace. We love you, we miss you, and thank you for your service to our country, Zack."
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