Two sentences were all that was written and published in the Naples Daily News on September 29th for an 80 year-old-veteran.
No story about his life, no story about his service, nothing more than the date he passed, and a date, time and location for his internment. The final sentence read:
“This Veteran has no immediate family all are welcome to attend.”
For everything bad that social media has created in recent years, every once in a while the platforms come through to catapult something worthy into the spotlight. The veteran has no known family or many close friends, and social media has taken on the cause to get people to his services.
Edward K. Pearson passed away in August of 2019, and his body will be interred today. Since the obituary of the U.S. Army veteran hit the internet, in less than 24 hours it has gone viral and hundreds of people across the country, and even in Canada have vowed to attend the services and pay their respects for a man who served his country.
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A tweet by CNN’s Jake Tapper help to propel the story to gain momentum on social media. Many individuals have also started to show their respect for Mr. Parson on a legacy website for posted obituaries.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) September 29, 2019
There is not much that is known about Mr. Pearson.
Records indicate that he served in the U.S. Army from 1962-1964 (Vietnam Era) and that he was honorably discharged. Records also show that he an engineer who worked for Marriott Hotel Services Inc.
The director of the funeral home where Mr. Pearson’s body was sent stated that no family came forward to claim his remains after his passing. Finally, a friend of Mr. Pearson’s came forward to make arrangements to lay him in his final resting place.
Knowing that Mr. Pearson was a veteran, the friend reached out and made arrangements through the Sarasota National Cemetery.
The Legacy Options funeral director Michael Hoyt commented on the social media phenomenon:
“I’ve certainly never seen anything like this, it’s good to know people are coming to support this veteran who has served and probably don’t even know him.”
Hoyt when on to further explain since the posting started to catch the attention of the nation, the funeral home has received many phone calls regarding Mr. Pearson wondering how they could best help to pay their respects.
If you happen to be passing through Sarasota today, Mr. Pearson will be laid to rest with full military honors with services starting at 12:30. The cemetery is located at 9810 SR 72 in Sarasota. All are encouraged to attend and pay respects for the Veteran who had served his country.
This is not the first-time social media has helped to bring complete strangers together to pay their respects for Veterans that have passed away with no loved ones or friends to honor their service to our country, or to celebrate their lives.
In January of 2019 countless individuals came out to show their respects for a U.S. Airforce Veteran in Kileen, Texas. Joseph Walker, who served in the Air Force from 1964 to 1968 (Vietnam Era), died at the age of 74.
When no next of kin came forward to claim his remains, The Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery made a request on social media to the public stating anyone was welcome to attend the funeral and pay their respects.
Again, the post went viral, and even major networks like Fox News picked up the story and spread the news that this veteran needed individuals there while he was laid to rest with full military honors.
In February of this year, three veterans who passed had no family or friends step forward to claim their remains. Over a hundred individuals came out to pay their resects for the three veterans Alberto Vasquesz, 67, Gil Vargas, 65, and John Flynn, 61, at a cemetery in San Antonio after a Veterans organization stepped up to pay for their funerals.
Most recently, at the start of September of this year, when no one came forward to claim the remains of U.S. Air Force veteran Lyndon Badgett, the funeral home posted on social media in hopes of finding someone come forward for him. Scores of individuals shared the post, and after going viral, hundreds showed up to pay their respects to the veteran.
While social media has crept into so many aspects of our lives, and some would argue it has taken over our lives, there are slight glimmers of hope that it can still be used for good things. In these cases, honoring those who have sacrificed something for our country.
As the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery stated:
“We Leave No Veteran Behind!”
Stories like these give hope for humanity as a whole, people can still put aside all the differences and show up for something meaningful and that is a bigger thing than any one individual.