The coffin-draped is removed from Navy Veteran Patricio “Patrick” Zamarripa's casket.

The coffin-draped is removed from Navy Veteran Patricio “Patrick” Zamarripa’s casket.

The Dallas – Fort Worth National Cemetery was on the national stage last Saturday as all eyes were on the 638-acre cemetery.

More than 10,000 people descended on the cemetery in Southwest Dallas as Navy Veteran Patricio “Patrick” Zamarripa, one of the five Dallas Police officers shot to death July 7, was laid to rest.

Cemetery director Larry Williams and his staff began planning for possible burials as soon as it was reported that three of the five policemen killed were Veterans.

He received a call a day later notifying him that Officer Zamarripa’s family had requested the Navy Veteran be buried with his fellow Veterans at the 16-year-old cemetery.

The facility was prepared for the large turnout and it was “all hands on deck” for cemetery staff. Led by foreman Melvin Carson, the cemetery crew worked round the clock to ensure its cemetery was immaculate and truly showed its national shrine status. It did, as dozens of police officers, military personnel, Veterans, family and friends commented on the its beautiful appearance. For many of the visitors, it was the first time they had been to the cemetery.

Dallas Fort Worth national Cemetery

An officer presents a Flag to the family of Navy Veteran Patricio “Patrick” Zamarripa.

On the day of the funeral, there was a sea of blue as thousands of police officers representing departments from around the country converged on the cemetery grounds. There were also police officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and London. Hundreds of Navy personnel also attended to honor their fellow sailor who had served three tours in Iraq.

Deb-B Kamisato, the cemetery’s administrative officer, coordinated with emergency medical personnel and volunteers to help keep the crowd hydrated as temperatures reached the high 90’s.

Media from all over the world converged to cover the committal service.

The Texas National Cemetery Foundation, together with community volunteers and the Dallas Police Department, provided more than 13,000 bottles of water that were distributed by area volunteer groups and members of the Junior Police Department.

Following the official program, the family was presented with the Presidential Memorial Certificate before departing for a celebration of life dinner planned in Officer Zamarripa’s honor.

Presidential Memorial CertificateEditor’s note: A Presidential Memorial Certificate is an engraved paper certificate, signed by the current president, to honor the memory of honorably discharged deceased Veterans. VA administers this program by preparing the certificates which bear the current president’s signature expressing the country’s grateful recognition of the Veteran’s service in the United States Armed Forces. Eligible recipients, or someone acting on their behalf, may apply for a Presidential Memorial Certificate in person at any VA regional office or by U.S. mail or toll-free fax. You can request a certificate using the VA Form 40-0247 Application for Presidential Memorial Certificate.

About the author: Ozzie Garza is director of the VA Office of Public Affairs regional office in Dallas, Texas.

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Published on Jul. 19, 2016

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