Funeral service for veteran with no immediate family expected to draw crowd

A Florida funeral service for a veteran who had no immediate family members is nonetheless expected to draw a crowd .

Naples resident Edward Pearson, a U.S. Army veteran who served from 1962 to 1964, died last month at the age of 80, according to the funeral home.

Edward Pearson is a U.S. Army veteran who died Aug. 31. 

Edward Pearson is a U.S. Army veteran who died Aug. 31.  (Legacy Options)

The funeral home wrote that Pearson has “no immediate family” and invited the public to attend his Tuesday burial service with military honors at Sarasota National Cemetery.

Michael Hoyt, the funeral director of Legacy Options in Naples, told Tampa Bay’s Fox 13, “We wanted to get the message out to the community to let people know that.”

Pearson’s story was shared thousands of times on social media, according to the station. “It kind of went crazy all at once,” Hoyt said.

Only two people – Hoyt and another veteran – had planned to go to Pearson’s burial service. Now, the cemetery is anticipating hundreds of strangers to arrive.

“We do have things set in place to accommodate parking and the overflow of people who show up,” said Ed Lyons, a veteran and assistant director of the cemetery.

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“It tugs at your heart because the things that veterans do for our country, what they sacrifice,” Lyons said. “You don’t want to think of anyone being alone or laid to rest without anyone being there to honor them.”

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Earlier this month, a similar set of circumstances played out after hundreds of people – including members of the Air Force and the Patriot Guard – packed into a cemetery to honor a veteran whom they'd never met.

Fox News' Charles Watson contributed to this report.