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Hundreds Say Goodbye to 11-Year-Old

April 28, 2009 — Hundreds of friends and family came to pay their last respects Tuesday to 11-year-old Jaheem Luis Herrera, quietly filing up to Kingshill Chapel beneath sunny, breezy skies belying the somber and sobering occasion.
During the final viewing, they came alone and in pairs to the casket, pausing in reflection, praying, crying, saying goodbye to the young man who ended his life, family say, in part because of bullying in school.
The chapel was filled to overflowing, with as many well-wishers standing against the back wall and outside the chapel as were seated in the pews. Many children were at the funeral, classmates, siblings and cousins, looking around, grim-faced and quiet in their thoughts.
Dozens of adults and children alike wore one of several different T-shirts memorializing the young man's life, some emblazoned with a school portrait, others with a grinning Herrera flashing a peace sign.
Pastors Hector Gonzalez and Anselmo Guadeloupe read scripture and spoke words of comfort in Spanish and English. Lisa Cruz sang Amazing Grace and Angela Bermudez led the mourners in a soulful rendition of the hymn "Cuando Alla Se Pase Lista."
Cuando la trompeta suene en aquel dia final
Y que el alba eternal rompa en claridad
Cuando las naciones salvas a su patria lleguen ya
Y que sea pasada lisa, alle he de estar

As she sang, the gathered mourners sang the chorus in response.
A group of 4th and 5th graders from Evelyn Williams Elementary, Herrera's school before moving, performed a dance in his memory.
"Jaheem was a very talented boy," eulogized his aunt, Ama Bermudez. "He loved drawing and was very good at it. I believe he would have become an excellent artist, but now we will never know."
He was a healthy, active baby, she said.
"As he was growing, he seemed to have a fascination for wrestling, and he loved wrestling so much he would practice with his cousins," she said. "… He also liked to dance and had his special moves."
The family had moved to Atlanta less than a year earlier and the child's beloved grandmother had recently passed away. Herrera was hit hard by the passing of his grandmother, the stress and loneliness of grief made worse by bullying at school, Bermudez said.
"I call upon all you parents and children out there, don't allow anyone whosoever bully you in any way," she said. "There must be a person you can trust to tell. You must put a stop to this immediately so the reason we are here won't happen again."
After the ceremony, pallbearers Gustavo Bermudez, Gustavo Bermudez Jr., Julio Estrada, Norman Keene and Benjamin Cline performed their duties, and the gathering proceeded to the grave site for the final farewell.
Herrera leaves behind his mother, Masika Bermudez; father, Enrique Herrera; stepfather, Norman M. Keene; grandparents, Gustavo Bermudez and Olga Lopez; great grandparents, Leonor "Leon" Gonzalez and Eva and Pablo Bermudez; sisters, Yeiralis "Tita" Bermudez and Ny'Irah and Ny'Itsa Keene; aunts, Ama Bermudez, Angelica Velazquez and Nnenna Bermudez; uncles, Julio Estrada, Gustavo Bermudez Jr. and Benjamin Cline; along with many cousins, relatives and friends too numerous to mention.
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April 28, 2009 -- Hundreds of friends and family came to pay their last respects Tuesday to 11-year-old Jaheem Luis Herrera, quietly filing up to Kingshill Chapel beneath sunny, breezy skies belying the somber and sobering occasion.
During the final viewing, they came alone and in pairs to the casket, pausing in reflection, praying, crying, saying goodbye to the young man who ended his life, family say, in part because of bullying in school.
The chapel was filled to overflowing, with as many well-wishers standing against the back wall and outside the chapel as were seated in the pews. Many children were at the funeral, classmates, siblings and cousins, looking around, grim-faced and quiet in their thoughts.
Dozens of adults and children alike wore one of several different T-shirts memorializing the young man's life, some emblazoned with a school portrait, others with a grinning Herrera flashing a peace sign.
Pastors Hector Gonzalez and Anselmo Guadeloupe read scripture and spoke words of comfort in Spanish and English. Lisa Cruz sang Amazing Grace and Angela Bermudez led the mourners in a soulful rendition of the hymn "Cuando Alla Se Pase Lista."
Cuando la trompeta suene en aquel dia final
Y que el alba eternal rompa en claridad
Cuando las naciones salvas a su patria lleguen ya
Y que sea pasada lisa, alle he de estar

As she sang, the gathered mourners sang the chorus in response.
A group of 4th and 5th graders from Evelyn Williams Elementary, Herrera's school before moving, performed a dance in his memory.
"Jaheem was a very talented boy," eulogized his aunt, Ama Bermudez. "He loved drawing and was very good at it. I believe he would have become an excellent artist, but now we will never know."
He was a healthy, active baby, she said.
"As he was growing, he seemed to have a fascination for wrestling, and he loved wrestling so much he would practice with his cousins," she said. "... He also liked to dance and had his special moves."
The family had moved to Atlanta less than a year earlier and the child's beloved grandmother had recently passed away. Herrera was hit hard by the passing of his grandmother, the stress and loneliness of grief made worse by bullying at school, Bermudez said.
"I call upon all you parents and children out there, don't allow anyone whosoever bully you in any way," she said. "There must be a person you can trust to tell. You must put a stop to this immediately so the reason we are here won't happen again."
After the ceremony, pallbearers Gustavo Bermudez, Gustavo Bermudez Jr., Julio Estrada, Norman Keene and Benjamin Cline performed their duties, and the gathering proceeded to the grave site for the final farewell.
Herrera leaves behind his mother, Masika Bermudez; father, Enrique Herrera; stepfather, Norman M. Keene; grandparents, Gustavo Bermudez and Olga Lopez; great grandparents, Leonor "Leon" Gonzalez and Eva and Pablo Bermudez; sisters, Yeiralis "Tita" Bermudez and Ny'Irah and Ny'Itsa Keene; aunts, Ama Bermudez, Angelica Velazquez and Nnenna Bermudez; uncles, Julio Estrada, Gustavo Bermudez Jr. and Benjamin Cline; along with many cousins, relatives and friends too numerous to mention.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.