WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Funeral services were held Monday for 21-year-old Marine Corporal Christopher Arzola of Westfield.
The 2008 Westfield High School graduate was one of three Marines killed two weeks ago in a traffic accident near Camp Pendleton in California.
Corporal Arzola was buried Monday afternoon at the Massachusetts Veterans Cemetery in Agawam, following a service at the Firtion-Adams Funeral Home in Westfield.
Arzola leaves behind his son, his son's mother, his own mother, and his grandparents.
On Beacon Hill, the State Senate adjourned in Cpl Arzola's memory, following a resolution proposed by Sen. Michael Knapik (R-Westfield).
A group of community members and students from Westfield State University showed up at the funeral to show support for U.S. troops and the Arzola family, after word had spread that members of the Westboro Baptist Church were planning to picket the funeral. 22News could not find any protestors from Westboro outside the funeral home or near the cemetery, however.
The Kansas church has received international attention for their demonstrations outside military funerals and at other major events; the church holds that troop deaths are God's punishment for the U.S.'s permissive attitude toward homosexuality.
Arzola's supporters say that free speech is important, but a military funeral is an inappropriate place to protest.
"I feel free speech goes to an extent. But in most cases, you have to have respect, and you have to have respect for the country and the troops that gave you that right," Conor Kallock of Longmeadow said.
"We as a community of individuals who can find this common ground. We all come from different backgrounds, but we can find this together. We are not going to stand here and allow this to happen. We're going to show our support to this family regardless of where we came from," Nikolas Fowler of Springfield said.