HAMMOND, LA (WAFB) - A community in pain leaned on each other Sunday evening in the glow of the fading sun, as a post on Facebook a few days earlier snowballed into a crowd of a thousand in a Hammond park to pay tribute to the servicemen who died in a helicopter crash.
"This community has pulled together to show for these guys and this unit that is our home," said vigil coordinator Gillian Rabalias.
Young and old, military and civilians, they all answered a call to voice their gratitude for the 11 lives lost last week. Eleven lanterns represented the seven Marines and four Louisiana National Guardsmen, whose deaths have left a void in this close community. Those at the vigil hope the small flames will bring a little light into the lives of the families they left behind.
"Our whole family is military," said veteran Cindy Newton. "We understand the trials and the tribulations that these have to go through."
"We know you're there and we want to pat you on the back and shake your hand and tell you thank you," Rabalias added.
A memorial fund for the soldiers has also been set up.