The United States Military Academy Preparatory School accepted a Junior ROTC cadet who died valiantly in the Parkland school massacre Tuesday, on the same day his funeral was being held.
As loved ones awaited word on whether a petition for him to receive a military burial would garner enough signatures, West Point posthumously offered 15-year-old Peter Wang admission to the academy. Loved ones say Wang died a hero in his ROTC uniform, and his dream was to attend West Point and serve in the military.
Family and friends of Wang gathered at Kraeer Funeral Home in Coral Springs to say their final goodbyes to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student.
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"For as long as we remember him, he is a hero," fellow student Jared Burns said.
Friends say Wang was holding a door open so other students could escape, sacrificing himself and getting shot repeatedly as he put others before himself.[[474189153, C]]
"He was like a brother to me and possibly one of the kindest people I ever met," friend Xi Chen said.
The USMA said in a statement that admitting Wang into the school was an appropriate way to "honor this brave young man."
"West Point has given posthumous offers of admissions in very rare instances for those candidates or potential candidate's whose actions exemplified the tenets of Duty, Honor and Country," the statement said.
A White House petition is calling on Congress to give Wang a proper, full honors military burial. The petition had received more than 56,000 signatures by Tuesday but still needs more than 40,000 signatures before it would get a response from the White House.
"His selfless and heroic actions have led to the survival of dozens in the area. Wang died a hero, and deserves to be treated as such, and deserves a full honors military burial," the petition reads.[[474553553, C]]
In a military funeral, tradition calls for the playing of "Taps" and the folding of the American flag.
"He died in uniform and he saved people's lives. He deserves to have a full military burial," friend and fellow JROTC member Victoria Downing said. "I want him to be remembered as a hero because that’s exactly who he was."
Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Scott has ordered the Florida National Guard to honor Wang and the other two JROTC members killed in the shooting at their funerals this week.
It was also announced Tuesday that the three JROTC members would be given the Army Medal of Heroism, which will be presented to their families.