It was a somber day for the Poland family and friends reached out to pay their respects. Friends and family said their farewells to Mr. Poland on Sunday. At the age of 66, his life was cut short. School directors, state officials, and students gathered to pay their respects.
Nicholas Duke, a friend from church, said, “He was a good man. Every day we went to church, he always had a smile on his face."
Poland was a beloved man.
Alabama State Senator, Harri Smith, expressed, “We know he was an adored husband, a great father, loved so much by his children. He’s going to leave a big void, I know, in this family."
Charles Poland is recognized as a hero because he didn't flinch and he didn't hesitate to risk his life for those children.
"He made the ultimate sacrifice while saving the lives of children that he loved so dearly,” stressed Smith.
He died tragically, but friends say he always protected the ones he loved.
Poland’s reverend, Charles Littlefield, said “Chuck was the last bus to always leave and I thought, how appropriate that Chuck always kept our back.”
Some say his fingerprints won't disappear from the lives he touched.
"For Christmas he gave me a keyboard because I wanted piano lessons. Now, I have something to cherish about him,” expressed Katie Elmore, a friend of Charles Poland.
Children from his bus wrote letters to his family saying those bus rides were the best times of their lives. One student aspired to be like Poland, writing "since you were the nicest person I met, I'll be the same way."
Now, he's more than a hero.
“Mr. Poland is an angel. He’s watching over Ethan and his family,” marveled superintendent, Donny Bynum.
He loved sitting on the porch with his wife Mary Janice, watching his loved ones.
Now, he's sitting in the clouds, still watching his loved ones.
On the way to the cemetery, three buses followed the procession to represent Charles Poland still has their backs.