MADISON, Ind. (WAVE) - Instead of laying a Vietnam Veteran to rest alone, a southern Indiana funeral home put out the call for community members and veterans. And they delivered, turning out by the hundreds.
“It just speaks to the kind of community we have. I’m just so thrilled to see all these people out here,” said Mike Abbott, a Hanover, Indiana resident and US Navy veteran.
"I'm surprised. We had no clue," said Neil Sandrock, a veteran and member of VFW Post 55396.
Tuesday afternoon, Larry Miller’s body is escorted into a small chapel on the grounds of the Indiana Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Madison, Indiana to a crowd of total strangers.
“Being a veteran myself, I felt like I should come out and pay my respects,” Abbott said.
“It’s important no man, especially a veteran, should never be put in the ground alone,” said Mike Layton.
He and his wife Maureen Layton decided to come days ago, wanting to make sure they support the sacrifice veterans make for their country.
“Well, he gave his life almost every day and he deserves it, whoever he is,” veteran Neil Sandrock said.
The call came out on Facebook from Morgan and Nay Funeral Home in Madison after a Vietnam Veteran from Indianapolis had passed away with no friends and little family. They decided they would provide a service and casket but needed attendees.
”I was scared to death he would only have a handful of people and so that’s the reason I decided to show up. I feel like he is so blessed," said Charlotte Conrad.
Conrad’s husband and son are veterans, many of her family members are too. She said his sacrifice deserves to be remembered, even by those he had never met.
“He gets military honors and the respect he justly deserves for serving his country,” said Alan Burnham, the Superintendent for the Indiana Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
“To see all these people here, makes my heart….” Layton said, pointing to his heart and choking up for a moment while his wife squeezes his arms for support.
So many showed up, they couldn’t all fit inside for the service. Veterans, police officers and community members waited outside as the service continued, silently supporting Miller’s memory.
”Heartwarming," said Rodney Nay, with the Morgan & Nay Funeral Centre. “It restored my faith in humanity,”
“Captain of the Guard, salute our Fallen comrade,” is shouted by a member of the honor guard. Veterans ring out a three volley salute.
Able to make it to say goodbye, Miller’s nephew Thomas Hillard remembers his uncle.
”Loving, caring, extremely stubborn," said Hillard.
Now, he’s no longer grieving alone.
“Extremely grateful, I mean it was a sign of the utmost respect. I mean, I can’t thank them enough,” Hillard said.
For a community that never knew Larry Miller, his funeral has become a service many here will never forget.
“It gets to your heart, real quick,” Sandrock said.
Whenever Indiana Veterans Memorial Cemetery reaches out about a veteran in need of a service or help when family and funds aren't there, Nay said they always jump in to help.
This is the 26th time they’ve provided a funeral like the one provided for Miller on Tuesday.