HAMMOND, La. -- Family, friends and the community bid their final farewells to a Tickfaw soldier killed in Afghanistan over the Memorial Day weekend.
"I want to say to you today that Christopher Drake is my hero," said Drake’s godfather, Rev. Jermaine Brumfield, Sr.
And Louisiana Army National Guard Spc. Chris Drake received a hero's goodbye Monday, full of celebration, not sorrow. Poems and letters from family and fellow soldiers detailed how drake touched so many lives.
"There is so much around me that reminds me of you, my big brother Chris,” said Drake’s sister, Raven, “You were, no, you are, my true angel."
"His loyalty to his friends and love for family made him who he was on and off the battlefield. It is my deepest belief that Drake accomplished his mission, both personal and professional, and that is to be with God, who purposed him to be," wrote Spc. Elijah Roberts, who was in the 1084th Transportation Company with Drake. His letter to Drake’s family was read during the service by Master Sgt. Melvin Jackson.
Messages from Gov. Bobby Jindal and Drake's godfather reminded everyone of Chris' sacrifice and what it means to so many.
"This particular situation has brought all of us together from one race and one particular category or class, or another, to come together in one sacred place," Brumfield said.
"Use Chris as an example of a role model, as a hero for you,” said Jindal, “Don't look up to those celebrities that are famous just because they're famous. Look up to Chris because he gave his life in service to others."
The celebration of Drake's life extended beyond family and friends. The rest of Tangipahoa Parish showed its support by flying flags at half-staff.
A final salute came from the military Drake served in thanks for a sacrifice that will never be forgotten.
Drake's family was given about a dozen medals and ribbons awarded to the soldier for his service and sacrifice including a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.