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People stop at grave site to pay respects

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Updated: 8/14/2009 5:37 pm
ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- People are now going to Capt. Speicher's gravesite to pay their final respects.

The cemetery is quiet. You hear just the sound of the birds and a few people wiping away tears as they visit Capt. Speicher's final resting place.

Janice Sweat comes to Memory Gardens often to visit her husband and parents.

Like many, she watched as the hearse carrying Speicher drove down Blanding Blvd this morning.

"I'm glad he's back on American soil and not in an Iraqi grave," said Sweat. 

Now she has one more person to pay her respects to. "When I see my husband, I can thank him for his service," said Sweat.

Flags waived high into the air, people stood silent. There was an anxious tension building as the hearse got closer to them.

All along the procession route, people lined the streets, saluting a hero. Even sailors lined the street in front of the chapel at NAS Jax. They all wanted to give a proper farewell to a man many didn't even know.

As he made his way to his final resting site, people like Sweat thought back 18 years ago when his plane was shot down. "I remember the night he got shot down. I remember it vividly," she said.

Never did she think, it would take 18 years for his family to finally have some closure."He was a POW, MIA, then dead. It's been a rollercoaster for this family. Now they have a place they can come to remember him," said Sweat.

For Janice, today wasn't only about an ending to a long history, but a beginning for everyone in this community. "He's somewhere they can honor him."

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