Thousands honor fallen soldier in North Adams
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. (NBC) -- In a city of 13,000 people, the phrase close-knit community doesn't cut it.
It's a phrase where the cliché "everybody knows everybody" rings true.
So everybody knew the kid who liked football and baseball and the outdoors in North Adams, Mass., the young man who dreamed he'd serve in the U.S. Army.
"It's just what he wanted to do since he was a real little boy," said friend and neighbor Jamie Letourneau.
Private First Class Michael DeMarsico was killed in action in Afghanistan earlier this month, when he stepped on a land mine.
"I was proud of him before but this shows how many others stand with him and be proud," said his great-grandmother, Barbara Cahoon.
Cahoon held on tight to the poster with a picture of her great grandson, waiting for the hearse carrying his remains to go by.
In that moment an entire city came together in sadness and silence.
"This is something I will never forget," she said as she cried.
To get a sense for how much this young man was known and loved, all you had to do was look at the streets of North Adams Wednesday.
Thousands of people lined up waving small American flags, with heavy hearts.
"It's our freedom. He died for our freedom," said North Adams resident Douglas Barlett.
Not everybody holding a flag is old enough to understand this sacrifice. And then there are others who've witnessed it too many times.
"People have been very patriotic, that means a lot," said Edward Gagne, a Vietnam and Korean War Veteran.
And now a grieving great grandmother understands that sacrifice more than she ever hoped she'd have to.
"He is a good boy and he was a hero," Cahoon said.