Emilie Parker laid to rest; family, governor call her an inspiration to all
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
OGDEN — Emilie Parker cared about people and their feelings. She never said a mean word to anyone.
Family members, friends, LDS church officials and the governor of Utah gathered to say their final goodbye to the 6-year-old girl who loved to draw and the color pink. They said their lives were better for knowing Emilie and spoke of her as a role model and inspiration for everyone, despite her young age.
"Emilie was an example not only to her little sisters but to her family, to all her little friends, and now she has become an example to the world about purity, innocence, tragedy and forgiveness," her aunt Jill Cottle Garrett said Saturday.
Those words were echoed by Gov. Gary Herbert:
"This is a time for coming together. My prayer would be as a state, as a nation, that as we remember Emilie, that we use her example to be better people. The best way we can remember Emilie is improving our own lives," Herbert said.
Herbert made his comments before the congregation that had gathered at the Rock Cliff LDS Stake Center Saturday morning where funeral services were held for Emilie Alice Parker. She was killed in the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14 along with 25 of her classmates and educators. Saturday, the final three victims of Sandy Hook were laid to rest in separate ceremonies, including one for Emilie.
Several hundred people attended the one hour service inside the stake center. Many wore pink, including her sisters and cousins who wore pink coats and dresses, and her father who wore a pink tie.
Outside the church, scores of people lined Monroe Avenue to pay tribute to Emilie. They stood silently on the street lined with hundreds of pink ribbons. Some shed tears, a few held signs,while others clutched flowers.
Jen Jake of Lehi was among those who held vigil as the funeral procession passed by. She said even though she did not know the family, it was important to show that even strangers could do their part to uplift the family “even if it was just standing outside holding a flower.”
“We all need a healing point at this time,” Jake said. “The (massacre) was so horrific and so tragic that this is healing for us as well as the family. It meant a lot that we could be out here for the family.”
Many like Emily Hopper of Clearfield said they were there just to show support to a family that was enduring unspeakable grief.
“I’m sure they like to know that people care about them and cared about their daughter,” she said. “That little girl died at the same age as my son is. They are very strong parents to handle this (tragedy) this way.”
Sisters Barbeli Taylor and Claudia Wardle made signs that read “Rest in peace Emilie,” with another crafted with a pink flower on it. They drove up from Utah County to pay their respects.
“It’s important to support people who are suffering,” Taylor said. “(Because of all of us) I hope they have a little more faith in humanity and know that good triumphs over evil.”
“If it were my child, I’d want any support I could get,” Wardle said. “To know that there is still good and love in the world.”
As parents themselves, the siblings said they have great empathy for the loss the Parkers have suffered.
“We all need to show our support, not just now, but remember what happened to (all of the kids at Sandy Hook Elementary School) and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Taylor said. “We must do everything we can to fight back. We need to have a safe world for our kids to grow up in."
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