The community is invited to join the family and friends of U.S. Army Specialist Rudy A. Acosta at a candlelight vigil at Santa Clarita Baptist Church on Luther Drive Thursday night. The 19-year old Acosta, a recent graduate of Santa Clarita Christian School, was killed last week in Afghanistan.
The vigil will begin at 6 p.m.; parking is available in the parking lots of both the Baptist Church and the adjacent Bethlehem Lutheran Church, as well as nearby shopping centers. Those wishing to participate should arrive at 5:30 p.m. so the vigil can begin on time.
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Rudy’s father, Dante Acosta said that a funeral will be held next Thursday, March 31, at Santa Clarita Baptist Church, where the family will receive their son’s Bronze Star and Purple Heart prior to the church services. The funeral will be open to the public.
Following the services, there will be a procession through Santa Clarita that will pass by places that meant something to Rudy, his father said. Support for the motorcade is being offered by the city, sheriff and fire departments and the Patriot Guard motorcycle group is expected to arrive to shield the family from any protesters. The community is invited to line the route and bring flags, banners and signs.
It is rumored that members of the Westboro Baptist Church, who believe military deaths are punishment by God for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality may make an appearance at either the candlelight vigil or the funeral procession or both.
“This is the wrong community to pull that,” Dante Acosta said. “They are not a Baptist church; they are not affiliated with any structured religion. They can call themselves anything they want, but they are primarily made up of one family of misguided people. My son didn’t die because this country promotes homosexuality.”
After the services on the 31st, the motorcade will leave the church on Luther Drive around noon, go past the Edwards Cinema; turn left on Soledad Canyon Road and proceed towards the Valencia Town Center where the young Acosta liked to hang out; turn left on McBean Parkway and proceed towards Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, where he was born; turn left on Orchard Village Road and proceed towards Little Light Preschool, where he began his education; turn left on Lyons Avenue, pass American Tire and the DMV, where Acosta got his license; turn right on Railroad Avenue and proceed to Sierra Highway, turning right at Sierra and proceeding to Eternal Valley for a private burial with military honors.
The senior Acosta anticipates the motorcade will take about an hour to reach the cemetery.