A dispute between the family of a deceased veteran and Heritage Funeral Home in Georgia went viral after a photo was released showing the body of George Luther Taylor, a Vietnam War vet, lying on a table with an American flag draped over him for the visitation.
Heritage Funeral Home refused to provide a casket for the viewing when the family couldn’t initially pay the $9,000 charge. Photos began circulating on social media showing Taylor placed on a gurney and partially covered with an American flag since the casket was not paid for when the visitation was scheduled to take place.
As reported by WTOC, James Taylor, the son of the deceased, confirmed the family agreed to the arrangement, but considered it a “disgrace” to his father. James Taylor said, “We asked him to be shown, but I didn’t realize they were going to bring him out on a table like that; open.” He continued, “I was hoping that they would cover it up a little bit more, and I told the guy inside I would deal with it, but it was disrespectful to my dad.”
Ella Moss, a family member, released the photo on social media. In the post, she said that Heritage Funeral Home “was told by the insurance company” that the check for the casket would be there tomorrow, but that Heritage refused to provide the casket.
WRCBTV reported that James Taylor, speaking with the media, said, “[Heritage Funeral Home] did say that until the $9,000 that they were charging us for the casket and everything; it had to be paid before we could put him into the ground at the [Chattanooga] National Cemetery,” continuing, “It’s a little bit of disrespect to my family because we want him buried.”
James Taylor went on to say, “We don’t want him in the freezer, you know. We may not have the money to pay [for] it, but you know they can help us out a little bit on that.”
Ben Friberg, Managing Director of Heritage Funeral Home, declined to speak on camera during an interview but did assert the funeral home did what was requested of them. He went on to explain that when families are unable to pay for services up-front, they are typically referred to local organizations that can assist with the expenses.
After being made aware of the situation, Charles “Rudy” Arnold, the Director of the Chattanooga National Cemetery, contacted Heritage Funeral Home to make sure Taylor would be properly buried.