Family Shares Perspective from the Red Wall Experience
COLUMBIA - (Editor's note: 10-year-old Camryn DeVore and her mom, Shelly DeVore, wrote essays about their experience attending the red wall in honor of Sterling Wyatt last Saturday.)
It was good to know that we could do something for someone who game his life to protect us. Seeing everyone there was amazing. All these people coming together and doing something was a once in a lifetime experience. Knowing that I, a ten year old girl, would be able to help a soldier also fascinates me. I also was confused on why people would try to upset the family further on a day that is already very upsetting for them. -Camryn DeVore, 10
We arrived downtown around 11 and immediately felt the whirlwind of activity happening. We parked in the garage by Missouri United Methodist Church with the thought of not taking a closer spot as SPC Wyatt''s family and friends should have those spots. As we rounded the corner of Hitt and Broadway, we saw the sea of red and it took my breath away. My immediate reaction was, "We did it. Columbia pulled it off." We made our way through the crowd to find our friends, Brandon and Michele Spry, who were saving a spot for us. Once we found them, we found the atmosphere to be almost festive. I realize it sounds wrong to say that, but people were coming together, lots of hugs and lots of friendly conversation. I was amazed to see the volunteers coming through with bottles of water and ice packs to keep everyone cool. The sound of Harley engines was constant. The line of traffic on Broadway of people driving by to see this event was never-ending.
Around noon, we heard clapping erupt. We couldn't tell why, but knew we had to join in. Soon, we saw SPC Wyatt's Mom and brother making their way through the crowd down the sidewalk. Sterling's Mom shook hands, hugged and talked to anyone that approached her. She was a true pillar of strength and it was obvious what this sea of red meant to her. I found myself standing there in the middle of downtown with tears rolling down my face and clapping for a woman I did not know who had lost her son that I did not know.
We were soon asked to form the wall around the church as the funeral was going to begin soon. We got into position for that and the crowd fell silent. Downtown was silent. Even my six year old son was silent. The weight of this moment for the family was on all of our shoulders and my hope is that those of us standing there around that church helped to bear some of the weight the family was feeling. It was about 10 minutes before the service was to begin when I saw the young people that had coordinated this event gather together near the church. Four of them stood there and looked around at the wall of people, a high five was exchanged and then there was a huge inhale and exhale from all of them. I don't, and probably won't, know their names, but they are also heroes. They worked together to take the large bed sheets that had been laid out for people to sign off the picnic tables and move them onto the grass so they could be fully seen. There wasn't a blank area left on those sheets.
Because of other commitments, our family had to leave at about 1:10. But, we were proud to come together with this community to be a part of something so amazing, even if just for a little while. Our deepest thanks go out to SPC Sterling Wyatt for his sacrifice and our hearts go out to his family as they grieve his loss. -Shelly DeVore
[Dozens of photos were shared with KOMU of the red wall. If you have more you'd like to share, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org]