Vanessa Guillen Is Memorialized at Texas Service

Vanessa Guillen Is Memorialized at Texas Service

A horse-drawn carriage took a coffin decorated with Mexican and American flags of the slain Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen for one last lap on her high school’s track field on Friday.

The only sound during a one-minute moment of silence below the blazing Texas sun was the wailing of her grandmother, Lorenza Almanza, as she touched the end of the carriage, which had windows surrounding the coffin.

Specialist Guillen’s mother, Gloria Guillen, took deep breaths through her face mask as she touched the glass. Like many other family members, Ms. Guillen was dressed in a white T-shirt displaying a photo of her daughter depicted with angel wings.

Specialist Guillen’s younger sister Lupe Guillen sat at the front of the carriage, slumped as her grandmother wept.

“My mother, Lady of Guadalupe, cover her with your cape,” Ms. Almanza said in Spanish, as she sought spiritual protection for her granddaughter.

Ms. Almanza, who traveled from Mexico to attend her granddaughter’s memorial service, added, “She is a saint in heaven.”

Partial human remains, later confirmed to be those of Specialist Guillen, 20, were found on June 30 near the Leon River in Bell County, Texas, more than two months after she was last seen at Fort Hood.

Specialist Guillen’s disappearance gained national attention as her family and activists expressed outrage at the lack of answers and action from the military after she disappeared.

A federal complaint alleges that another soldier — who fatally shot himself as the police approached him — killed Specialist Guillen. The soldier’s girlfriend was charged with helping him dismember and burn Specialist Guillen’s remains.

On Friday at Specialist Guillen’s high school, César E. Chávez High School in Houston, the coffin, custom-made with her name, was taken around the lanes where she competed in track. Specialist Guillen also played other sports, including soccer and cross-country.

The coffin was later placed at the center of the auditorium of the school surrounded by yellow and white flowers, portraits and balloons.

The public memorial service, which was streamed on Facebook Live and lasted more than seven hours, included several Catholic and Mexican traditions, including prayers and a mariachi band paid for by the singer Becky G.

A private funeral and Mass will be held on Saturday. President Trump, at a White House meeting on July 30 with Specialist Guillen’s family, offered to help financially with funeral expenses.

Every time Ms. Almanza visited the United States from Mexico, she would bring Specialist Guillen her favorite chocolates, Creminos. Ms. Almanza said she would place those chocolates on her tomb on Saturday.

When Ms. Almanza left in January to return to Mexico, Specialist Guillen ran after her and gave her money.

“That demonstrates that Vanessa — even if she was running late — she’ll catch up to you. No matter what,” Lupe Guillen said. “She was there for you no matter what.”

Lupe Guillen said she drew on her sister’s strength to get through the months when she was missing. “I’ve been admiring you since Day 1 because you’re a fighter,” she said. “You’re a warrior.”

Specialist Guillen, who dreamed of being in the military since childhood, kept chasing her dreams, Lupe Guillen said.

“You were always chasing — chasing them no matter what the people said, no matter who told you, ‘You can’t do it,’” she said.

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