Forgotten veterans given a final resting place | News

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Forgotten veterans given a final resting place

JACKSONVILLE, FL -- During a bright fall day at Jacksonville's National Cemetery, the stars and stripes waved with grace and majesty as if to say to some forgotten veterans: welcome home.


Fifteen unclaimed cremains of Army and Navy veterans were being removed, one by one, from a hearse for internment. Until now they were sitting on a shelf in a funeral home.

"For anybody to be left on a funeral home shelf is one thing, but for it to be a veteran that is not called for, we can't allow that to happen," said Kathy Church.

Church is with the Missing in America Project. Since 2006 the organization has located and identified the cremains of 9800 veterans nationwide.

"It is closure," she said, "it definitely is closure."

Church said the service on Friday was to give closure to 10 veterans and five military souses. In the Jacksonville area alone they've recovered and identified 73 veterans cremains and they're not finished.

"It is very emotional," said Church.

During the service an American flag is folded and presented to a living relative. At this service there was none. Les Bertrand, retired Navy, accepted the flag in place of a living relative. He said it was an honor.

"We're honoring them," said Bertrand, "we're giving them their last dues."

The cremains the Missing in America Project identified were found in just one funeral home.

"This is all from 12 locations of Hardage-Giddens funeral home," said Church. "It is dating back to 1968."

She said even when they're finished in the Jacksonville area, their mission is not over.

"Our goal is to work every funeral home in the state of Florida," said Church.

Until all of the forgotten cremains of veterans are no longer forgotten.


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