One of the most moving and powerful veteran stories of the year centers around the dedicated community of Boulder City, Nevada and how they honor their fallen hometown heroes.
Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery quietly cremates fallen veterans who do not have families each week. Without a funeral or memorial service, these family-less veterans are laid to rest lacking the recognition of their incredible sacrifice and who died protecting our values and way of life.
Upon hearing that some veterans are buried in such a way, the local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America sprang into action. Each Thursday, volunteers from the chapter create a group service for all of the veterans cremated that week. Typically, these small ceremonies are just that: small, with just two volunteers in attendance.
However, at this week's memorial service, something incredibly remarkable happened. Nearly 100 people attended to act as stand-in family members to the fallen heroes and to ensure that their sacrifice was remembered.
Everyone in attendance were perfect strangers to those they were honoring, as it is the case with previous services. But, the lack of connection or familiarity did not stop the community coming together and sending these brave men and women off as they so deserve. The only information the volunteers have on the fallen veterans are their names, date of passing and time of service.
“We're their family today,” said Debbie Logue of Steve Duran, Theresa Dawkins and Russell Shriver, the fallen veterans.
What made this week's service different was an email “call to action.” Like wildfire, the email spread around the Boulder City community, and instead of a handful of people showing up, as it was expected, nearly 100 did. Some of the new attendees did not know that veterans were being laid to rest alone and without some sort of service.
Hopefully, this community continues to rally together and honor these brave men and women each week. What sprung from a veteran's organization doing what they thought was the honorable thing to do, may incite other communities across the country to send their fallen heroes off surrounded instead of abandoned.