It has been less than a week since a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, claimed the lives of 17 people. Peter Wang died a hero, according to his friends, who say that he lost his life while trying to help others.
Wang was a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He enjoyed playing basketball and was a member of the school’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program.
“Peter Wang, 15, was one of the students killed in Florida this past week. He was a JROTC Cadet who was last seen, in uniform, holding doors open and thus allowing other students, teachers, and staff to flee to safety. Wang was killed in the process,” reads an online petition that was created on his behalf.
On Tuesday, February 20, NBC News reported that West Point admitted him posthumously.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Petition for Wang to Receive Full Military Honors at His Funeral Has Been Started Online
Wang died while wearing his Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) uniform, helping save the lives of his fellow students. On February 16, an online petition was created in hopes of Wang receiving full Military Honors at his upcoming funeral. According to the Daily Mail, Wang was shot several times by the suspect, whom police have identified as Nikolas Cruz, while holding open a door and allowing his fellow students to run to safety.
“His selfless and heroic actions have led to the survival of dozens in the area. Wang died a hero, and deserves to be treated as such, and deserves a full honors military burial,” reads the petition, in part.
So far, the petition has received just over 70,000 signatures. It would need 100,000 signatures to get a response from the White House.
Military Honors are offered to every eligible Veteran who has served in the United States military. The program, which was started on January 1, 2000, includes an American flag presented at the burial as well as “the playing of Taps,” a bugle signal that is defined as “the last call of the day.”
“Upon the family’s request, Public Law 106-65 requires that every eligible Veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony, to include folding and presenting the United States burial flag and the playing of Taps. The law defines a military funeral honors detail as consisting of two or more uniformed military persons, with at least one being a member of the Veteran’s parent service of the armed forces. The DOD program calls for funeral home directors to request military funeral honors on behalf of the Veterans’ family. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Cemetery Administration cemetery staff can also assist with arranging military funeral honors at VA national cemeteries. Veterans organizations may assist in providing military funeral honors. When military funeral honors at a national cemetery are desired, they are arranged prior to the committal service by the funeral home,” the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website reads.
You can hear Taps below.
2. He Was Confirmed Dead the Day After the Shooting
A neighbor and friend of the Wang family by the name of Jesse Pan had been posting updates on Facebook before Wang was confirmed dead. For hours, Wang had been “missing,” his body either not found or his identity not confirmed by authorities.
“I am here with my neighbor and their family waiting for their son latest update! Please pray for all of our friends and family, and all those affected by this awful tragedy. There are no words of comfort. Our Home town of Parkland is heartbroken,” Pan wrote on Facebook just after midnight on February 15.
“We are still looking for Peter Wang a freshman at Stoneman Douglass High School. Peter’s parents speak Mandarin Chinese & very little English. If anyone has any information please let me know,” another Facebook user named Mark Moll posted around the same time.
Twelve hours later, Pan confirmed that Wang had been killed in the shooting.
“Rest in Peace Peter,” he wrote, sharing a few photos of Wang.
3. His Funeral Was Held on Tuesday, February 20
Wang’s family made funeral arrangements for him shortly after his death was confirmed. Since the petition for Military Honors didn’t receive enough signatures in time for Wang’s funeral, he will not be able to receive Military Honors. The funeral home would have had to be notified ahead of time for this to happen.
His funeral was held on Tuesday, February 20, at 11 a.m. Eastern. Family and friends gathered at Kraeer Funeral Home in Coral Springs, Florida, to remember and honor Wang.
Wang’s body was then transported to the Star Of David Memorial Gardens Cemetery in North Lauderdale, Florida, where he was buried.
After the services, Wang’s family invited family and friends to join them at Miyako Japanese & Seafood Buffet in Pompano Beach, Florida.
4. He Wanted to Attend West Point After Graduating High School & the Military Academy Admitted Him to the Class of 2025 Posthumously
Wang was dedicated to serving his country. Not only was he part of the ROTC, a program “that prepares young adults to become officers in the U.S. Military,” but he had hopes of attending West Point.
Jesse Pan told the Daily Mail that Wang wanted to “serve his country.”
The United States Military Academy, known as West Point, offers academic, physical, and military programs to people hoping to have careers in the U.S. Army.
5. He Had 2 Brothers & His Family Owns a Restaurant
Wang is survived by his parents and his two younger brothers. His family owns a restaurant in Pompano Beach, Florida.
Two of Wang’s cousins, Aaron Chen and Lin Chen, have spoken to the media about Wang, and just how good of a kid he was.
Aaron Chen talked about how his cousin helped him through bullying when he changed schools a couple of years ago.
“Being the new kid sucks but imagine being the new kid that can’t speak English. I would have died if it wasn’t for Peter. He made sure I wasn’t bullied at our first school. He protected me and I couldn’t protect him during the shooting,” Aaron Chen said in a video posted by the Miami Herald.
Lin Chen talked to the Sun Sentinel about Wang.
“He is so brave. He is the person who is genuinely kind to everyone. He doesn’t care about popularity. He always liked to cheer people up. He is like the big brother everyone wished they had,” she told the outlet.
“I don’t want Peter just to be a victim. I want him to be remembered as the best brother, cousin, son and friend that anyone can ask for,” Aaron Chen added.