Special burial ceremonies were held Friday and Saturday at two cemeteries in Texas and Florida for 42 veterans whose cremated remains were never claimed—in one case for 45 years.
The burials with full military honors were organized by the nonprofit Missing in America Project and provided a fitting final tribute to those who may have died unclaimed by next of kin but who were still being remembered for their service to their country.
Friday’s event at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio was for 17 veterans whose cremated remains had been sitting unclaimed in the Potter County Courthouse in Amarillo, Fox San Antonio reported.
"This ceremony is special for us," said cemetery director Aubrey David, according to the station. "It's the third year in a row that we've had the Missing in America Project in a ceremony to memorialize and give respect and dignified burials to these veterans."
The burial featured a procession of Junior ROTC students walking in pairs--with one carrying the ashes of a veteran and the other carrying an American flag.
Saturday’s event at South Florida National Cemetery near Lake Worth was for 24 men and one woman who served in the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines during World War II, the wars in Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf, and peacetime, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
The event included the playing of taps, the folding of flags and the singing of "God Bless America," the paper reported.
“These veterans signed the blank check and gave everything for us to have our freedom,” said Kathy Church of Missing in America Project's Florida chapter.
“It’s the right thing to do,” she added, according to the paper.
The Sun-Sentinel reported that the buried veterans included one who had remained unclaimed since 1975.
“You can imagine how long these veterans laid in a funeral home, house, even a garage,” Army veteran Jeff Garten, who attended the ceremony, told WPEC-TV. “However, at least now they have been found and they are properly honored for their service.”