Fans call Jackson memorial heartfelt, historic

TUPELO – For Michael Jackson fans in the Tupelo area, Tuesday’s memorial service was the perfect sendoff for the superstar.
Jackson, who died at age 50 on June 25, was remembered at the Los Angeles tribute by fellow celebrities Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, Usher, Brooke Shields and Berry Gordy.
Chrisi Walker, 38, of Tupelo, won tickets to the memorial at the Staples Center but couldn’t attend because of business, so she watched the memorial on television.
“It was very emotional,” she said. “I like that they were trying to celebrate his life, while they were also mourning his passing.”
Jackson’s daughter, Paris, 11, spoke at the memorial, and Walker said that was an especially touching moment.
“His daughter was saying how much she’s doing to miss her daddy, and how he’s been there for her, and that was very emotional and heartfelt,” she said.
Walker is keeping her tickets as a reminder of how close she came to the historic event, but she’s giving one of her tickets to her brother, who drove from his home in Lake Tahoe to pick up her tickets in Los Angeles.
“I just felt like I was supposed to be there. Of course, I had other obligations, but I wanted to be there so bad,” Walker said.
Michael Jackson fan and DJ Stan Allen watched the memorial with his children.
“It was a true honoring of a musical legend and a musical icon,” said Allen, who with his son listened to Jackson’s music after the memorial.
Allen said he thought singers Lionel Richie and Stevie Wonder were especially moving in their tributes to Jackson.
“I would’ve loved to have been there, but I think I had a better view than most people standing outside,” Allen said. “This is like the inauguration of Barack Obama – I can’t say I was there, but I can say I was alive when it happened.”
Michael H. Miller, 26, of Corinth, echoed Allen’s sentiments. While not a fan, Miller respects the breakthroughs Jackson made in the music industry and considered the memorial a historic event.
“This is one of those things in life that you actually have to be there for,” Miller said. “I appreciate that it was a celebration of life rather than a sad time.”
Miller agreed with Walker that Jackson’s daughter gave the most touching tribute to her father.
“To hear her speak and say he was the best father she could ever have, that capped it right there,” Miller said. “When you thought of Michael Jackson, you thought of the entertainer. She made him a person.”
One Northeast Mississippian did travel to pay his respects, but not to Los Angeles.
Jackie Ford, a retired chemical operator from Aberdeen, was among the steady stream of fans visiting the singer’s boyhood home in Gary, Ind.
“I felt like I needed to pay homage to ‘the greatest,'” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

Click video to hear audio