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Army soldier laid to rest in Pensacola
PENSACOLA -- The Florida legislature passed a bill that was signed by Governor Scott that would make it a crime to protest within 500 feet of any funeral in Florida. That bill goes into effect in October.
The Governor also flags ordered flags to half-staff on Saturday, in honor of army Staff Sergeant, Jesse Thomas.
Hundreds of people lined the streets around east hill church in Pensacola to show their support for staff sergeant, Jesse Thomas. Army Staff Sergeant, Jesse Thomas served in the army for 7 years. He died June 10th in Afghanistan.
“We are all proud, everybody's proud very proud,” said Staff’s sister Sheldra Thomas.
But family and friends aren't the only ones honoring Staff Sergeant Thomas' service. Hundreds of people crowded around East Hill Church of God in Christ doused in red, white and blue.
"Our community loves their service members and appreciate the service that they do and the sacrifices that they make for us,” said Natalie Griffith.
Part of this showing of support, stems from rumors a group known for protesting military funerals, had plans to disrupt, Thomas' funeral services.
Diane Zecckine said,"Baby, Facebook works magic (laughs) Yes it does.”
Lisa West said, "I believe God is love and I don't believe that Westboro stands for that."
Armed with signs, police and the patriot guard the funeral went on without incident.
"This is great, we need to do this every time we have a fallen soldier, it's a shame we have so many. But we support them all and we appreciate their sacrifice, “ said Dirt Emerson, US military vets motorcycle club.
As the casket was placed in the hearse and the funeral procession neared its final destination at Barrancas national cemetery, for Staff Sergeant Thomas' family, it was a sense of closure.
Maegan Mccoy said, "it's just incredible the love and support that Pensacola is showing, it's a strong military community.”
And for the community, many were proud to know a man who gave his all was finally able to rest in peace.