Every Fort Worth generation has its heroes: Horace Carswell, Edna Gladney, Alan Bean, James Cash.
We have met the hero for a young generation: Patrick Zamarripa.
When the former Paschal Panthers baseball player came home this weekend, he brought an arena full of fellow Dallas police officers and Navy sailors to send off a good guy gone too soon.
When Navy Capt. Mark Hofmann told family members at the rosary Friday that Zamarripa was posthumously promoted to petty officer, first class, for his three tours of service in Iraq, he said Zamarripa was “both a sailor and a cop. … He took that obligation twice. He kept that promise twice.”
That was the theme for a rosary and memorial to a 32-year-old who has seen the entire world change since he graduated from Paschal in 2001, three months before 9-11.
After Navy duty came police work in Dallas, where he made friends with Cowboys tight end Jason Witten at a fan event, and met everyone from actor Cuba Gooding Jr. to the Texas Rangers’ Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara as a friendly and spirited off-duty security officer at the see-and-be-seen Candleroom.
He made friends and touched hearts in both cities, and so both cities came together Saturday to remember him.
For all the police and sailors in Wilkerson-Greines Athletic Center on Saturday, there were almost as many Zamarripas and fellow worshipers from All Saints’ Catholic Church, the heart and soul of north Fort Worth.
We have met not only a hero but also a heroic family. The Zamarripas have shown incredible faith and strength in greeting mourners on a roller coaster that has taken them from New York, CNN and Anderson Cooper to Dallas and meeting Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
This family has been part of Fort Worth for 70 years, weaving together a legacy of leadership mostly around the historic north-side Marine Park community and All Saints’ church.
Actually, the first reference to Patrick Zamarripa in a Star-Telegram news story wasn’t by name.
In 1995, when he was 12, somebody burned the youth baseball field at Echo Lake Park. A family member talked about how “parents are working so hard to keep our children off the streets. … We’re working to keep these kids out of gangs and off the streets, and then they see something like this.”
Before that, in 1991, his late grandfather Agapito Zamarripa wrote a stirring letter to the editor in the Star-Telegram about World War II veterans.
“Freedom, duty, honor and fairness have long been protected by courage and teamwork,” he wrote.
“Young men and young women from all neighborhoods have served to protect these principles for generations. Just like all our veterans and their families fought for the good cause in the past, today, once again, we fight side by side.
“Our troops in the Persian Gulf reflect all the minority ethnic groups of the United States’ melting pot. Today we are working together, and it is my hope that we shall work together for fairness and freedom for all in the future.”
In the name of Patrick Zamarripa, may we keep that goal.