Thousands say their final goodbyes to a hero

    Birmingham Police Officers prepare pass down Sgt. Carter's hat to his 15-year-old son.

    As rain poured from the sky Saturday, many kept a watchful eye on the road as a procession led by Sgt. Wytasha Carter's patrol car made its way from Trussville to the Legacy Arena in Downtown Birmingham. On the final stretch before the arena, a man stood under an overpass clutching an American Flag, telling law enforcement vehicles from Alabama and all over the country to 'keep up the good job.'

    Once inside the arena, it was time to pay respects to a father, son, uncle, hero and protector. Carter was killed in the line of duty last Sunday as he was working a case of car break-ins. There were times of laughter and sadness as speakers spoke to the capacity crowd and Sgt. Carter's family. The 44-year-old who was widely considered the rock of his family, left behind a wife of 21 years, a daughter and a son.

    "My heart can not leave his 24-year-old daughter and his 15-year-old son," Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said. "While his entire family grieves and his community grieves, you have a young freshman in high school that will be missing his father. a father who was teaching him to tie a bowtie, and he got really close to perfecting that bowtie. But, because his father will be missing and absent physically during the remainder of his high school years, I say it is not just incumbent on me, but all of our fellow officers over here to make sure you know how to tie a bowtie. It is incumbent upon us to make sure for your junior and senior prom to make sure we send you off right. It is incumbent upon us that when you walk across the stage at high school that we be there for you, as well as his daughter who is 24. We all know what it was like to be 24--searching, trying to find who we are and the next steps in our lives. We need to be there for you too."

    Birmingham Chief of Police Patrick Smith spoke of Sgt. Carter and his life of hope and promise.

    "I know that you are hurting right now, but you are amongst people who lived in the realm of his hope and his promise," Chief Smith said. "It's up to every one of us to lend a hand to bring up his hope and his promise for tomorrow. Sergeant Carter was a soldier and a protector of hope and promise. While everyone rested at night, Sgt. Carter was hard at work protecting those who did not even know his name. They did not know Sgt. Carter was out there, but he was doing his job, what he was called to do."

    At one point during the funeral, Birmingham Police gave Sgt. Carter's son the hat he wore as he served and protected us all.

    "Wyt would actually be teary-eyed if he was here right now," friend William White said. "He would be humbled by the outpouring of love and support and recognition he has received today. He really wanted to make a difference. He hoped that what he was doing would make a difference, and I think we can surely say and confirm, bro, you did that. You made a difference for sure."

    Carter's father also spoke during the service, saying that his family has been completely moved by all the love and support they have received from family, friends and even complete strangers.

    "When they told me my son lost his life, the spirit left me," Ronald Carter said. "The spirit left me. The anointing left me. When my son lost his life, everything in me was gone, but in the twinkling of an eye, just as I said that, the Word spoke to me again. David said, 'Ron, I lost my child. Get up out of those sad clothes and go in there and wash up. and come in here and sit down and fix you something to eat. That is what brought me through. It hurt. What I am saying might not make no sense, but I hope and pray that I can help somebody else."

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