Crowd Spontaneously Gathers to Lay Veterans to Rest | News
BOULDER CITY, Nev. -- At the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery, as many as eight veterans are cremated each week with no family or friends attending their funerals. To ensure no service member is buried alone, a local veterans' group has adopted a mission.
Every Thursday morning, two members of the local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America group hold a service at the cemetery for service members without families. On this Thursday, it was different. Instead of a near empty room, it was a full house.
"In the blueness of the skies and the warmth of the summer, we remember them," said George Haussmann before a crowd of about 100 people.
At this service, veterans Steve Duran, Theresa Dawkins and Russell Shriver were being laid to rest. No one in attendance at the funerals knew the three deceased people.
"We're their family today," funeral attendee Debbie Logue said.
She was among the more than 100 strangers who gathered to say farewell to the veterans.
"Floored," said Philip Pearlman with the Nevada Patriot Guard. "I expected 15 to 20 people, not a building full. Respect, that's what it's all about."
What brought everyone together was an email. Within days of it circulating around the community, people responded.
Gerald Connors with Vietnam Veterans of America typically leads one of the services. He knows little about the people he honors. The only information he has is a name, date of death and their time of service. He said many of the veterans he bids farewell to have similar stories.
"A bachelor who didn't have any relatives. Also, I'm thinking some of these folks are people from the street," he said.
Pearlman said the least he could do was spend an hour bidding the veterans farewell.
"Show your respect to these people who have given you your freedom, given you this wonderful nation," he said. "The least you can do is spend an hour saying goodbye."
A simple thought, prayer -- perhaps even a tear -- on this final, forever roll call.
The Vietnam Veterans of America share the responsibility of holding services for interred veterans with the Women Veterans of Nevada. They hold services at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery twice every Thursday.