Unclaimed veterans buried with dignity, thanks to strangers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Funeral homes, medical examiners, state and federal veterans’ affairs departments and local veterans’ groups have combined forces to honor members of the military whose bodies weren’t claimed by any relatives.

About 700 mourners attended a burial service in Memphis, Tennessee, for three military members whose bodies went unclaimed. Most of those in attendance on a rainy Thursday didn’t know the men. They showed up to honor their military service.

Since 2000, Dignity Memorial and partner funeral homes in more than 30 cities have organized about 3,000 funerals for soldiers, sailors and Marines who died alone.

Memorial services for unclaimed veterans are publicized through local news outlets, veterans’ groups like the American Legion, or social media, such as Facebook. Honor Guard and other active military members also attend.

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