Army Sgt. Nathan P. Kennedy
Died April 27, 2010 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom
24, of Claysville, Pa.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died April 27 near Quarando Village, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit using small-arms fire.
(The following was taken from www.observer-reporter.com of May 9, 2010) CLAYSVILLE – The community of Claysville will never be able to sing patriotic songs the same way again.
“Now they are deeply personal for us,” said the Rev. Meade Lacock, as he delivers the eulogy Saturday at the funeral for a local soldier killed in action in Afghanistan.
“Together, we mourn a loss that is too big for words,” he said at Claysville American Legion Post 639, which hosted the funeral for U.S. Army Sgt. Nathan P. Kennedy.
Nearly 400 people crowd the Legion post to pay their last respects for Kennedy, 24, whose open casket is positioned in a corner below two American flags tacked to the wood-paneled walls. Nearly as many people are turned away for a lack of room inside the post home on Main Street in this small, rural town.
Patriotic country music filters from speakers and a woman stands near the casket with a box of tissues for the mourners in the moments before services begin promptly at 2 p.m. A long side wall is lined with flowers, many bearing red, white and blue ribbons.
The funeral begins with the march of two dozen members of the Legion’s color guard wearing blue dress uniforms and wearing white gloves. The men parade in single formation to the casket, where each tips his hat to the fallen soldier before placing it across his heart with the right hand and leaving the room.
Lacock, pastor of Claysville Christian Church, reads from the Bible’s 23rd Psalm before offering a prayer for “heavy hearts, hearts that are broken for what we have lost.”
Kennedy, a Ranger and sniper who had just re-enlisted after also serving in Iraq, died April 27 when his unit came under small arms fire near Quarando Village.
Mourners are reminded his death occurred on his late mother Penelope Henry Kennedy’s birthday, and he is being buried on Mother’s Day.
“For the past couple of weeks, your whole community and that of America has stood beside you,” Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi, a Claysville native, said in offering his condolences to the soldier’s family.
“You will see a small town mourning a true American hero and coming together to find the strength to deal with our sorrow,” Maggi said.
Outside, thousands of people holding American flags line the sidewalks to witness such a rare military service in Claysville, with two horses about to Kennedy’s flag-draped coffin on an antique black caisson a short distance to the cemetery off Route 40.
The crowd waits this chilly afternoon in utter silence for the procession to begin, save for the periodic sounds of horses nervously scrapping their hooves on the pavement.
A nearby church bell tolls three times at the 3 p.m. hour before Kennedy’s grieving father, Joseph, and siblings Natalie Kennedy, Noelle Pattison and Niles Kennedy join their neighbors on the sidewalk.
The soldier’s friends, serving as pallbearers, then carry the casket to the caisson. Members of the Legion take the lead in the march to the cemetery, followed by a group of Kennedy’s fellow Rangers at the casket’s side.
Behind it follows a black horse with an empty saddle with a pair of brown boots placed backwards in its stirrups to represent Kennedy.
At least another 1,000 mourners join the slow march to the burial site beside that of the soldier’s mother.