Two small churches in Atlantic Canada were overwhelmed by mourners, as the third and fourth funerals were held for soldiers killed during an Easter Sunday explosion in Afghanistan.
Pte. David Greenslade of Saint John, N.B., and Pte. Kevin Kennedy of St. Lawrence,N.L.,were laid to rest.
The city of Saint John was awash in yellow ribbon as the funeral service for Greenslade, 20, was held at 11 a.m. at the Main Street Baptist Church.
Greenslade, a member of the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Canadian Regiment, died in Kandaharon April 8. He was one of six soldiers killedwhen their light-armoured vehicle hit a roadside bomb.
About 700 people wearing yellow and red ribbons squeezed into the church, built to hold 400. People started to arrive at the church as early as 9 a.m. for the 11 a.m. service. Attendants were on hand to help mourners find parking spaces along the clogged side streets surrounding the church.
The hour-long civilian servicewas televised in the church's gymnasium, which was openfor overflow. Speakers were placed outside the church for those unable to find a place inside.
Pastor Stephen McMullin said the day was about honouring Greenslade and the way his life touched others. Three friends reflected on times shared with the soldier.
One who had served overseas recited lines from the film We Were Soldiers, lines that Greenslade would speak to his comrades during moments in the field when moods were low.
Afterwards, a photo presentation showed family photos, images of Greenslade paddling a kayak, fishing with his father, and playing with his dog, Colby.
Greenslade's parents describe their son as a fun-loving man who believed in the work he was doing overseas. They say if people wish to support them, they should wear red on Fridays as a way to remember their only child, and honour those who continue to serve.
"The memorial, the funeral,I think really demonstrated the family's love for having lost a soldier that was serving his country in Afghanistan and doing exactly what he wanted to be doing," said CFB Gagetowncommander, Colonel Ryan Jestin.
"I think the family can take great comfort that we now have some closure, and there is indeed hope beyond the grave, even though we lost six soldiers on Easter Sunday last week."
Greensladewas to be buried at the Fernhill Cemetery in Saint John.
'A wonderful boy, wonderful,' great-aunt says
On Thursday afternoon, hundreds of mourners filed into a tiny white church— perched on the edge of St. Mary's Bay, on Newfoundland's south coast— to say goodbye to Kennedy, 20.
With a gale blowing behind them, soldiers hoisted the coffin into Our Lady Of Assumption church. Family members and friends— many of them fighting back tears— followed.
"You feel like… that really part of you is going with him," said Betty Halloran, a great-aunt, who saw Kennedy for the last time at Christmas. "A wonderful boy, wonderful."
About 700 mourners showed up for the mass— far more than the church could accommodate. The rest sat in a nearby parish hall to watch the service on television sets.
Many of those who attended drove more than 300 kilometres from St. Lawrence, on Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula, where Kennedy lived.
Kennedy's mother came from St. Vincent's, a community near St. Mary's, and where Kennedy was laid to rest.
"I know that he was a good soldier, I know that he was determined, and faithful— not only to his church but to his community and to our country," said friend Angela Fleming.
Services will be held Friday for Cpl. Brent Poland in Sarnia, Ont., and for Master Cpl. Christopher Stannix in Halifax.
Meanwhile, funeral arrangements are being made for two soldiers — Trooper Patrick James Pentland of Geary, N.B., and Master Cpl. Allan Stewart, raised in Miramichi, N.B. — who were killed last week in a separate explosion.