Veterans are brave men and women who put their lives on the line to protect the rest of our freedoms. Sadly, when they return home from serving their country, they often do not get the respect that they deserve. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than when a veteran ends up dying alone and forgotten.
Thankfully, the city of Nashville, Tennessee just stepped up in a big way when they learned that no family had come forward to claim the body of a deceased veteran.
Earlier this month, Marine Corps Sgt. Leo Stokley, who served in the Vietnam War, passed away at the age of 69. Since he left no surviving family members, the local funeral director planned a small service for him, expecting virtually nobody to show up. Thankfully, he was completely wrong about this!
Western Journal reported that the Facebook group U.S. Army WTF posted on their page about Stokley, urging people to attend his funeral as a way of honoring his service to his country. It didn’t take long for their post to go viral.
“Yesterday morning, everything changed,” said Funeral Director Alan Desmond. “The phone hasn’t stopped ringing, the emails and the texts haven’t stopped since then.”
An enormous crowd ended up showing up to Stokley’s funeral, much to the delight of Tea Gray, who was one of his caretakers.
“He was one of our sweet eaters who always wanted chocolate chess pie,” Gray said.
Kay-Lynn Carew is a Nashville resident who attended the funeral after her daughter told her about Stokley.
“She knows I live here, I work here,” Carew said. “She said can you show up, I said heck yeah I can show up.”
“When you hear about a veteran, and nobody’s gonna be there, somebody’s gotta be there,” she added. “Lots of people forget, there’s a lot of veterans that don’t have any families left. We’re all the family, we’re Americans, we’re the family.”
Watch the touching video below.
We’re so glad to see that a community came together to give this veteran the loving sendoff that he deserved!