In Fort Wayne, Indiana, a funeral home called out for people to attend the funeral of a fallen Vietnam veteran whose body went unclaimed because he had “no family”. More than 1,200 fellow veterans and patriotic Americans came out to show that there is always a family for veterans.
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James Douglas Beavers, a 74-year-old Vietnam War-era veteran, died Nov. 23. His passing went unnoticed–by everyone–for five days. Though local authorities were able to identify Beavers, they knew next-to-nothing about the man and the life he’d led.
When Beavers died, the local coroner ran announcements on social media channels, and in the local paper, hoping someone would claim the body. No one did. It seems that Beavers, who led a solitary and isolated existence, had no one to claim him.
Then David McComb, president of a Fort Wayne funeral home, stepped in. “Due to state law we have to wait a certain amount of time for friends or family to come forward to make arrangements and that never happened,” says McComb.
Instead, McComb took it upon himself to see to the burial. “Even [Beavers’] neighbors didn’t know much about him. He led a very private life. We don’t even have a photo of him.” McComb said.
After researching records, those in Fort Wayne still know little about a man who lived among them. Beavers had enlisted in the Army in 1963 as a payroll clerk. He was an orphan who served most of his military career in West Germany. He remained single all of his life, and there’s no record of him having any children.
But that didn’t stop people from showing their respects. When news of Beavers’ solitary life began to spread, many strangers began showing their support. Many of them actually showed for his funeral. Veterans, active-duty soldiers, law enforcement, and many civilians saw something symbolic in Beavers’ fate and were determined to show him the respect now that he’s so long deserved.
The Roman Catholic service was officiated by an Army chaplain and Friar David Meinzen. By all reports it was a simple service. There wasn’t much to say about the life of the deceased. Instead, it was the crowd that gathered around the grave sight that proved so powerful.