Saturday, 2:15 PM
Mourners line streets to say farewell to Leominster soldier
(David Kamerman/Globe Staff),
A hearse carrying the remains of Army Private Jonathan Roberge arrived in Leominster on Tuesday.
By Megan Woolhouse and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
LEOMINSTER -- Hundreds lined the streets again today as the hearse carrying the casket passed. Young children home from school stood waiving American flags along the route to St. Cecilia's Church. Handwritten signs taped in windows read: "God Bless Jonathan."
Since the remains of Army Private First Class Jonathan Roberge were returned here on Tuesday, people who never met the 22-year-old have honored him by standing in the street. They were along the side of the road on Tuesday when the casket arrived from Hanscom Air Force Base, and again on Wednesday for Roberge's wake at City Hall.
This morning the streets were full for the final procession to St. Cecilia's Church, a cavernous cathedral-style sanctuary where Roberge was baptized, confirmed, and had gone to confession. All 1,200 seats were taken for his funeral this morning and mourners stood in the back and along the side aisles.
"He wanted to make a difference in the world. He wanted to make people safe," Monsignor James P. Moroney said in his homily." He was, in his own words, 'kind of a big deal.' If he could only see you right now, with all the crowds, the flags, and the honors."
Roberge was killed last week by a suicide car bomber near Mosul, Iraq. The 2005 graduate from Leominster High School's Center for Technical Education was on patrol in a Humvee during the attack. He has been described as happy young man who was quick with a joke and a smile.
"Every death is painful beyond description for those who love. But the death of one so young who seems snatched away from us … seems indescribably painful," Moroney said. "So we console ourselves with memories and stories."