Community unites to remember soldier killed in Afghanistan - FOX 32 News Chicago

Community unites to remember soldier killed in Afghanistan

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A suburban community came together Monday to remember a fallen hero.

Visitation for Private First Class Aaron Toppen of Mokena was held at Parkview Christian Church in Orland Park.

The Senior Pastor, Tim Harlow, remembered him fondly.

“If ever there was a young man who knew what he wanted to do with his life, at 19 which most people don't, it was Aaron. And this was it and the fact that he gave his life doing what he knew he was called to do, it doesn't make everything well, but it certainly helps us understand," said Harlow.

Family members said Toppen’s childhood dream was to serve in the army.

"He had something that I would consider rare these days in youth culture and that's class. He was humble, he was polite, he was loyal and everybody liked him," said Toppen’s uncle, Jack Winter.

Mourners were greeted with signs thanking Toppen for his service and sacrifice. The church in Orland Park was surrounded by American flags.

On Saturday, an estimated 30,000 people lined the streets from Midway to Mokena, the soldier’s hometown, to salute the family during his procession.

"There were strangers waving flags with their hands over their hearts, saluting,” said Winter. “Nobody that was involved in that can be anything but moved by what they saw. I know that it will stick with me for the rest of my days as well."

The community is still putting its collective arm around this family to honor a young man who was determined to follow his dream and serve his country.

"That support from friends and family and especially from strangers has helped her get through this and will continue to help her get through this,” Winter added. “It's not easy, for Aaron the war is over, but in a sense for my sister and her family it's only just begun."

The church is prepared to handle thousands of people who may come to PFC Toppen’s funeral on Tuesday at 10 a.m.

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