Fazzari family grateful

Walla Walla has shared its love, patriotism, faith and more

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A procession down people- and American flag-lined Main Street welcomes home First Lt. Mat Fazzari on June 19 in Walla Walla. Fazzari was killed June 6, 2012, in Afghanistan while flying a helicopter on his first tour of Bagram.

It has been less than one month since this community shared in the tremendous outpouring of love, honor, patriotism, faith and support in sharing in the grief of losing our son, husband, father and brother, 1st Lt. Mathew Gregory Fazzari.

We truly have no words that even come close to the gratefulness we feel in living here in Walla Walla, where it can truly be said that America is the land of the free, because of the brave.

The return of Mathew's remains and the processional into town on that Tuesday will always be remembered as the best that our community and this country has to offer in caring for and welcoming home a serviceman lost in war.

The Patriot Guard Riders and the Combat Veterans International were the noble motorcyclists who lined the way to the airport and then were part of the solemn procession through town to the funeral home. Many of these riders are veterans of previous wars who each carry their own heartaches and memories from serving this country in the military.

The Washington State Patrol, the Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office, the Walla Walla Police Department and the Walla Walla Fire Department all contributed to this great procession.

Through our tears we saw the lineup of citizens holding flags and saluting as the somber procession went through town. The flags flying high above us hoisted by the power companies and the huge flag over the Main Street square held in glory by the ladder trucks from the fire department were truly awe inspiring.

The streets were lined with community members, friends, relatives and uniformed personnel from all the agencies that tirelessly work to keep us safe both at home and abroad.

We know that businesses suspended work in order to be present at this occasion.

The circle of honor at the funeral home was both awe inspiring and overwhelming in the strength we all felt from being lifted up through our sorrows in this way.

At the funeral services and Community Celebration for Mathew later that week, both at Assumption Church and at Cordiner Hall, we again felt so much support and honor and the power of prayer from so very many.

There were people from all over the nation who were friends, classmates, military personnel and fellow pilot comrades of Mathew's. The seats were filled with so many of our own friends and relatives, fellow Walla Wallans, and people from all over this country here to pay respects. We were surrounded and embraced by so very, very many well -wishers who gathered to pray and to mourn and to celebrate Mathew's life.

We greatly appreciate all who made this happen, ranging from providing the extra seating and speakers at Assumption Church, the somber procession to the cemetery, which again included the Patriot Guard and the law enforcement agencies and the fire department with the huge raised flag again, the cemetery personnel, the Fort Bragg Honor Guard and Bugler, the incredible luncheon reception at Assumption and to the Whitman College president and the truly outstanding Whitman staff for providing Cordiner Hall for the Community Celebration on Saturday.

There have also been a number of concerts and events held in Mathew's honor both downtown in June and at Pioneer Park on the Fourth of July. Mathew's DeSales classmates have made wristbands with his name as a show of support. Numerous citizens have given so freely to support Mathew's young family.

Meanwhile events have been held at Fort Rucker, Ala., and Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, as well as an upcoming Memorial at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Mathew's copilot and commander, Capt. Scott Pace of Brawley, Calif., is similarly remembered in his small town. His family and our family have become friends in our united grief and in our thankfulness for our brave sons who flew to the rescue of those on the ground as was their mission.

As Mathew's family, we will always miss his physical presence in our lives. However, he will always be with us in spirit and now we know he will always be with this community and this country as we know his 25 years were lived with faith and passion.

We know he loved and was loved. We know his life touched so many.

We pray for strength and safety for all the military personnel serving this country who are willingly and quietly stepping into harm's way to provide the security we sometimes take for granted. We love you all.

We sign as Mathew did in his daily letters;

Very Respectfully,

Greg and Susan, Tovah, Dominic, Samuel, Danielle, Luke and Shawn.

Mathew's parents, wife, sons, sister and brothers

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