The family was also able to write a message on an American flag, which the group will put on display at Arlington National Cemetery at the end of the ride.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Police Department escorted Tribute to Fallen Soldiers Northwest, which travels across the country to honor veterans, to Southview Cemetery on Wednesday morning in memory of Army Spc. Michael R. DeMarsico II.
"It was Michael's dream to serve his country and he did it admirably," said Warren Williamson, executive director for group. "He was extremely proud to wear the uniform of the United States Army ... We as everyday Americans will always be grateful for your fallen hero's sacrifice."
DeMarsico, 20, was killed nearly 10 years ago by a roadside bomb while on patrol in Afghanistan, which prompted an outpouring of grief from the community over the loss of the young sports enthusiast and Drury High graduate. He is one of 68 veterans the group is honoring during its 13th annual Memorial Torch Motorcycle Ride, which started in Oregon on July 9 and will end in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Aug. 7.
"That has always been our core mission. When we started this journey 13 years ago, it was to visit families like yours, who have suffered such a great loss and devastation," Williamson said to the DeMarsico family.
The group presented the DeMarsicos with a plaque, a portrait of Michael, and a vest patch honoring him and his service. Lisa DeMarsico, Michael's mother, expressed gratitude to the group for its purpose and the time it took to honor her son.
"I remember being asked what my one wish was at Michael's service. My one wish was that he would never be forgotten," she said. "When we're gone, his stone will stand, but would his memory? You ensured to us that that will happen. Thank you so much."
The family was also able to write a message on an American flag, which the group will put on display in Arlington at the end of the ride. A memorial torch, in a mobile cart, will be kept lighted for the entire trip to represent the life and sacrifices of all the service members the group has honored.
"While we sleep at night, the folks at the Elks Lodge (in Albany, N.Y.) last night, they did three-hour shifts. There was new people out there all night guarding the flame," Williamson said. "Just sitting there and guarding the flame, so no one messes with it. It's really, really, heartwarming to see that kind of support for what we do."
All of the service members the group is honoring are veterans of conflicts from the last two decades, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.
"For us, it doesn't matter what the incident was. They signed on the dotted line, they raised their hand and said we would serve, we would protect your freedoms," Williamson said.
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