Family members of Army Specialist Kevin Cardoza gathered to say their final goodbyes.
A public memorial was held this morning, so loved ones could honor the local hero before he went to his final resting place.
It was an emotional day for the Cardoza family.
On Monday they received the 19-year-old's body.
This morning a public memorial was held at Trinity Worship center in Pharr.
Kevin always wanted to serve his country, the family told Action 4 News.
The Mercedes native died Saturday, May 11th in Afghanistan after a roadside bomb went off.
Four other American soldiers died alongside him.
Family members say Cardoza was brave and strong.
He died doing something he loved, protecting his country, the family said.
The public memorial ran from 9 a.m until around 1 p.m.
Kevin was buried this afternoon at the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery in Mission.
The Cardoza family wants to thank the public for their support and patriotism.
Mission Students Salute Fallen Soldier
Leal Elementary School students lined the street next to their school today to honor a fallen soldier.
Principal Trinidad Pena said it TMs a long standing tradition.
When the Valley loses a soldier and we find out they will be buried nearby we prepare, Pena said.
Leal Elementary sits on the road that leads to the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery in Mission.
Today, students with a flag in one hand, saluting with the other, braced as the procession for Mercedes native Kevin Cardoza approached.
Many students at Leal heard about his death on the news and began asking teachers where he would be buried, hoping they would have the chance to honor him.
They look forward to it, because they know how important it is for us to go out there and pay our respects, Pena said.
It TMs not the first time many of these students have stood on this side of the road.
In second grade I didn TMt understand why they had to go fight, because people attacked our country, but once I got to third grade I understood why, fifth grade student Aleena Flores said.
Watching loved ones of Cardoza pass makes war a reality for even the youngest child.
It is a sobering realization for many.
It made me proud, that people fought for our country, Flores said.
Students at Leal Elementary hope the family of Cardoza find some comfort knowing even the smallest person can show gratitude for the biggest sacrifice.