Strangers Gather To Provide Military Sendoff to Veterans Unclaimed in Death
A group of Michigan veterans is going viral after they gathered to honor military veterans unclaimed in death with a tear-jerking video that shows them playing “Taps” at a service at a Mount Clemens funeral home.
According to MLive, the remains of three Macomb County veterans hadn’t been claimed by any friends or relatives in the months since their deaths, meaning that they likely wouldn’t be accorded the same obsequies other veterans are usually afforded.
“One survived World War II. Another made it out of Vietnam. The third served his country during peace time,” MLive’s Gus Burns reported. “Their bodies instead lay in morgue freezers.
“No one was planning a patriotic funeral on their behalf; that is, until the Macomb Veterans Action Collaborative, an agency that helps homeless veterans, linked up with Harold W. Vick Funeral Home in Mount Clemens, which was founded by a veteran in 1971.”
Thanks to their efforts, the three men — Navy Seaman First Class Cyril Brown, 90, who served in World War II; U.S. Airman Second Class Gerald Suttkus, 81, who served in Vietnam; and Army Private First Class Thomas Novak, 59, who served during peacetime — were given a funeral with almost 100 people in attendance.
And, as you can see, the sendoff Thursday was a moving event:
This also means, MLive reported, that the men “won’t be buried in unmarked pauper graves, like so many other unclaimed dead, but instead alongside others who served in the military services at Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly.”
It’s not an uncommon occurrence at Harold W. Vick Funeral Home, where almost 50 veterans whose bodies were unclaimed (as well as nearly 200 civilians) have been given services.
The funeral home is only reimbursed for roughly 25 percent of what it costs for cremation, the service, interment and travel costs.
However, funeral director Michael Kolb says that he wants to give veterans the proper respect that they’re due for serving their country.
Attendees at Thursday’s ceremony turned out for similar reasons.
“I like doing this stuff, being a veteran myself,” Frank Newman told MLive.
“It’s kind of sad that they’ve been forgotten — I don’t know why nobody from their family has claimed them, or whatever — but it’s a sad commentary.
“Somebody that served their country, they deserve respect and I think this is a nice way of giving some respect back to these people who’ve been forgotten by their families and to honor their service to this country,” he added.
We concur heartily — and salute everyone who came out to make Thursday’s event possible, and everyone who’s been involved in similar services for veterans elsewhere. It’s certainly a bit of heartening news to counterbalance all of what we see in the media these days.
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