Peter Wang, a 15-year-old freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who spent the last moments of his life protecting other children, was buried on Tuesday.
There were too many people to fit in the Kraeer Funeral Home where the memorial service for Peter was held, so several hundred mourners—at least 200 of them students—crowded under a white tent in the parking lot out front.
The memorial was in English and Chinese, and the clear theme was that Peter died a hero.
On Feb. 14, as the shooter opened fire on his classmates, Peter held open a door for students to escape.
Then he was shot.
Peter was in the Junior ROTC. The flag at the funeral home flew half-staff. In just four days, nearly 75,000 people had signed a WhiteHouse.gov petition to give Peter a military burial with full honors.
“He acted like a true hero,” said Henry Hyde of Fort Myers. Hyde drove his motorcycle with a group of veterans—the Patriot Guard Riders—from the west coast of Florida to escort Peter’s funeral procession. They flanked the entrance to the funeral home with large American flags.
“We knew he was going to go into the military so we wanted to show him the same respect that we do veterans,” said Hyde.
“I remember meeting Peter on the first day of sixth grade. He sat sort of near me. He always had a smile. And sometimes I wondered: what is this boy so happy about?” said 14-year-old Karina Eissler, who is friends with Peter’s family and came to the memorial for moral support.
“Just seeing him sometimes on my worst days—just seeing him smile kind of made my day better,” she said.
Karina said Peter’s death wasn’t fair. She talked about how shaken up she and her friends feel.
“We shouldn’t have to think: What if I go to school and I don't come home after it? What if I leave on a bad note with my parents? What if I forget to feed the dog? Maybe I will never come home,” she said. “We shouldn't feel like our last day could be at our school. We should feel like we have an entire life ahead of us.”
Peter had hoped to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Instead, he was buried in his JROTC uniform with a U.S. Army Medal of Heroism pinned to his chest.
On Tuesday, just before his burial, West Point posthumously admitted Peter to the class of 2025.