WOODVILLE, Texas — Before January 13, not many outside of Woodville had heard of Jacoby McFarland. But today that didn't matter.
One by one, students from Colmesneil ISD and hundreds of others from across Southeast Texas lined the streets to salute a hero.
US Army Specialist Jacoby McFarland's body arrived in Tyler County on Monday.
The military hasn't said how the 25-year-old died.
McFarland was stationed in Hawaii, and was only days away from being discharged.
Colmesneil ISD Superintendent Angela Matterson said she knows it's an important responsibility to respect the men and women that uphold freedom.
"So many in previous wars that came home didn't receive the reception that they deserved," Matterson said. "It was just important for our district to stand up and do this as a whole, and so we have our entire grades 7-12 here as well as our official dressed FFA officers to honor this young man and his family."
She said the decision was made on Thursday night to bring the students to be part of the tribute.
"It's our duty, it's our responsibility to make sure we continue to respect and hold up these men and women that serve in the military," Matterson said.
Veterans, city leaders and community members all came to pay their respects to the Jasper native.
Earlene Keys knew she needed to be there.
"I even took off work to come because I felt like I should be here," Keys said. "I feel that every mother of a veteran, every father and every citizen should be here."
Kendall Coleman with Coleman's Family Mortuary has known McFarland his whole life. He says when he got the news, he didn't want to believe it. Seeing the tribute helped turned his pain into joy.
"It actually just gives hope for the generation to come in regards to where our society is now and even now to see them come out and show support, it basically just says, hey, we're headed in the right direction," Coleman said.
It's a direction where people take to time to honor the fallen, and show gratitude for their service.
McFarland's funeral will be held this Saturday in Jasper at Lighthouse Church.