On Thursday, November 10, 2016 a funeral was held for a two Vietnam veterans with no living relatives. However, they were not laid to rest alone. The funerals for Clifford Ray Dudley and Marine Lance Cpl. Dennis Ray Ashley Corpus was held in Christi, Texas at the Coastal Bend State Veterans Cemetery. When no next of kin were found, the cemetery made a call to the public to attend the funerals. They posted on their Facebook page, “We do NOT leave Veterans behind.” About 400 people showed up to mourn the veterans.
Similarly, last Friday November 11, 2016, another funeral was held in Texas for a Navy veteran with no relatives. Richard Lee Anderson served in the navy from 1996 to 2002, and although funeral director Robert Falcon tried to find his family, it was to no avail. “At such a young age we thought that we would have no problem with trying to locate family and unfortunately it's just been very unsuccessful,” Falcon told Fox 7.
“If a veteran passes away at a VA hospital or veterans home, and no one claims him/her as a family member, the staff will work with the state or national cemeterys, to ensure that there is a plot or urn provided, and military funeral honors for that veteran… Funeral directors will also call the morgue, or vice versa, and they in turn will contact the nearest veterans cemetery, and ask them to check to see if that person was a veteran.”However, they are under no obligation to contact anyone to attend the funeral. Regardless, the tradition has been held for years.
This July about 200 people in New York went to pay their respects to a 91-year-old homeless veteran with no known relatives. One of the people in attendance highlighted the importance of the act “We are connected through our service and through our sacrifice. Look around now, she has 200 or so family members. As long as you’re a veteran you have friends and family everywhere and you’re never alone.”
Debora Flores Franco