DECATUR – The parking lot at Bellmont High School was filled almost to capacity Saturday – nearly as crowded with cars as it would be on a weekday with school in session.
But the hundreds of American flags on display, most of them held upright for hours by mourners rather than mounted or planted in the ground, were a testament to the somber nature of the gathering.
The life and military service of Decatur-born Staff Sgt. Phillip Jenkins, 26, who was killed in action Sept..7 in Iraq, were celebrated and commended during a public funeral service Saturday at the school.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Kurt J. Stein was there to speak on behalf of the secretary and chief of staff of the Army but asserted that words on such a day "are feeble and wanting."
Stein said Jenkins' sacrifice was made so that all Americans can be "free from fear, free from pain and free from suffering."
Stein read numerous testimonials and eulogies from military personnel who served with Jenkins.
Jenkins was then posthumously awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, which were given to his wife, Melissa.
A funeral procession made its slow way through downtown Decatur on its way to Decatur Cemetery while hundreds of city residents looked silently on and held flags aloft.
For more on this story, read Sunday's print editions of The Journal Gazette or visit www.journalgazette.net after 7.a.m. Sunday.