Soldier Killed In Fort Hood Shooting Remembered In Joliet
The street outside the Fred C. Dames Funeral Home in Joliet was lined with 200 motorcycles yesterday, all mourners paying their respects to U.S. Army Pfc. Michael Pearson, 22, of Bolingbrook, who was one of the 13 people--and three from the Chicago area--that was killed in a mass shooting at Fort Hood earlier this month. The motorcycles outside the funeral home belonged to the Patriot Guard Riders, a group that often attends the funerals of military personnel.
The service, attended by over 250 people, began with Jimi Hendrix's version of the Star Spangled Banner on electric guitar--a fitting tribute to Pearson, who loved playing his guitar and idolized Hendrix. Kristopher Craig, Pearson's brother and a member of the Illinois Army National Guard, spoke about his brother. "We grieve our loss, but gather today to honor and celebrate his life," Craig said. "I thank God I had him in my life for 22 years." Gov. Pat Quinn said that Pearson loved his country more than himself. "God didn't give him a long chronological life, but he certainly gave Michael Pearson a purposeful life, a life of service and joy and helping others," Quinn said.
Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar said a $1,000 music scholarship would be awarded in Pearson's honor next spring at Bolingbrook High School and a bronze memorial would also be erected in front of the village hall. Pearson was also posthumously awarded the Army Commendation Medal and the Good Conduct Medal at the funeral. His flag-draped coffin was taken to Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood. He was buried with full military honors. Pearson is survived by his parents, Sheryll and Jeff Pearson; another brother, Jason Craig; and a sister, Julie Craig. [Chicago Sun-Times]