At Middle Tennessee Veterans Cemetery on Nov. 9, Americans validated that appreciation and honor for our country’s armed forces veterans runs very deep.
During the start of the week, hardly anyone knew of Marine Corps Sgt. Leo Stokley. The 69-year-old Vietnam veteran passed on, leaving behind no biological relatives.
A local funeral director put together burial arrangements for the veteran, counting on a very small collection of people– if anyone– to show up at his funeral.
But two days prior to the planned service, folks started contacting the funeral home, saying they would be there to commend Stokley.
The word regarding the unclaimed veteran spread after Facebook group U.S. Army WTF moments put up a need attendance online, requesting for people to make sure that the hero would not be buried alone.
At Middle Tennessee Veterans Cemetery on Nov. 9, Americans proved that love and respect for our country’s military veterans runs deep.
At the beginning of the week, hardly anybody knew of Marine Corps Sgt. Leo Stokley. The 69-year-old Vietnam veteran passed away, leaving behind no biological family members.
A local funeral director set up burial arrangements for the veteran, expecting a very small number of people– if anyone– to attend his funeral.
But two days before the scheduled service, people began calling the funeral home, saying they would be there to honor Stokley.
The word about the unclaimed veteran spread after Facebook group U.S. Army WTF moments posted a call for attendance online, asking for people to ensure that the hero would not be buried alone.
Tea Gray, Cay Cross and Samantha Anderson think of themselves to be Stokley’s family.
They were thrilled that countless strangers came to his funeral, putting in the time laughing and reminiscing about the man they really loved like family.
“He was one of our delightful eaters who always yearned for chocolate chess pie,” Gray told WSMV.
Nashville local Kay-Lynn Carew was also among the attendees, claiming she learnt about the event from her daughter.
“She knows I live here, I work here,” said Carew. “She said can you turn up, I said heck yeah I can turn up.”
On Friday, Carew ended up being an honorary member of Stokley’s family, also.
“When you hear about a veteran, and nobody’s gon na attend, somebody’s got ta be there,” Carew said.
“Numbers of people forget, there’s a lot of veterans that don’t have any family members left. We’re all the family, we’re Americans, we’re the family.”
Cross said that Stokley would have appreciated seeing the wave of supporters at Middle Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.
“I can claim we were his family,” said Gray. “He came to be our family.”
Rest in peace, Marine.