Anyone riding down Hwy. 144 between the CVS Pharmacy and the Richmond Hill Funeral Home could not help but be overwhelmed by the love and support the community showed for our hometown hero and the Freeman family.
I saw grown men weeping, children silent in sorrow, and patriotism at the highest I have seen in Richmond Hill since 9/11.
Citizens put their differences aside for a serene moment to honor Capt. Matthew Freeman for his ultimate sacrifice.
Just standing on the side of the street looking at everyone waving their flags, I felt a sense of pride in my country. Just when you think your country has no sense of respect left you see something like Capt. Freeman’s tribute that touches and ignites a burning flame in your heart.
Capt. Freeman was an active student during his time at Richmond Hill High School, so teachers and students raced after school to get to Capt. Freeman’s tribute.To honor Capt. Freeman, many of the high school athletes put aside practice to attend his tribute.
The high school football team dressed in their white jerseys as the softball team made a poster that read "Freedom is not free."
While we were waiting on the funeral procession to come through, all that could be heard were people talking about how thankful they are for Captain Freeman’s sacrifice for their freedom.
When Richmond Hill police stepped out of their vehicles to block off the intersection of Hwy. 17 and Hwy. 144 the crowed immediately fell silent.
All that could be heard was the sound of the funeral possession going by and many wails of sorrow from the crowd.
The Richmond Hill Police Department and members of the Georgia State Patrol escorted Captain Freeman’s body and his family and friends down Hwy. 144 in such an elegant order it took my breath away.
Looking at the family’s faces you could see the agonizing grief for a death that was untimely.
You could see their love for Captain Freeman etched on their faces from all the tears they shed.
After the friends and family passed, a group of about 50 motorcyclists called the "Patriot Guard" rode through showing their support and carrying flags. The "Patriot Guard" consisted of veterans, motorcycle organizations, and volunteers whose mission was to show their sincere respect to the fallen hero, friends, and his family.
I cannot think of a more honoring way to show love and respect for Captain Freeman and his family than how the community came together to show their appreciation.
Regardless of political views about the battles going on overseas, the turnout of the citizens honoring Captain Matthew Freeman showed that patriotism and respect for fallen soldiers still runs deep in the hearts of Americans.
Katelyn Rawlings is a senior at Richmond High School and a school reporter for the Bryan County News.