SARASOTA, FL (WFLA) – A group of forgotten American heroes were finally laid to rest in Sarasota. These military veterans died years ago, but sadly their remains sat unclaimed for years.
So the non-profit group ‘The Missing in America Project’ made sure they got the honors they deserve. The Florida State Coordinator for Missing in America Project, Kathy Church said, “As one funeral director says, it’s the tragedy of cremation.”
Funeral homes across America have cremated remains that are unclaimed. In many of these cases the families never came back, relatives died off, or no money was available for a funeral.
Church said, “To have anybody sit on a funeral home shelf unclaimed is terrible, but for a veteran, for somebody who served our nation, and for their family who also served, it’s just not right, we have to take care of our veterans.”
On Thursday, seven military veterans and four military wives were finally honored. They were given a full military funeral.
Most of the veterans served in World War II, and their remains have been sitting on shelves for years. Joan, a Sarasota resident, has been the custodian of the remains of her friend, Rennis Taylor. After the World War II veteran died in 1992, no one ever came to get his remains, so she held onto them.
Joan said, “It saddens me, which is why I’ve held on to Rennis’ ashes all these years. Even though he’s no relationship to me, he deserves respect.
Once there, the remains were carried to the front of a stage, where the names were read as a bell was struck.
Then a group of servicemen fired volley shots from their rifles for a salute.
And a navy serviceman played taps.
Joan said with a smile, “I feel very relieved. I thought I might not live long enough to see this day.”
She added, “I just think it’s high time that he got the recognition he deserves.”
Even though these men and women were unclaimed, they’re not forgotten.
Since the group formed in 2006, more than 2,500 veterans have been identified and buried all across the country.
Some of their veterans even go as far back as the Civil War.
It’s a powerful labor of love to make sure no brother is left behind.