Patriots and service members from across the country flocked to south Florida this week to honor Edward K. Pearson—an 80-year-old Army veteran who died with no immediate family.
According to CNN, Pearson's public funeral service was held at Sarasota National Cemetery on Tuesday, about one month after his death in Naples, Florida. After learning that the former Army private had no one to claim his remains, Legacy Options Funeral and Cremation Services decided to step in.
"One of our ways of giving back to the community of Naples is we offer free funeral services to any indigent or homeless veterans," funeral director Michael Hoyt told CNN. "We reached out to some of the local veterans' organizations in the county and we said we were afraid that no one would come except for us and the military honors."
An announcement for Pearson's public funeral service was shared across social media and eventually made national headlines. On the day of the service, more than 1,500 people showed up to Sarasota National Cemetery to pay their respects. The service reportedly included performances of "Taps" and "Amazing Grace," as well as a release of doves.
"If Ed were here today, he would cry, he would laugh and he would salute," Pearson's neighbor April McCausland told attendees. "He was a wonderful man and he deserves everything that's happened for him today."
According to discharge papers, Pearson began serving in the U.S. Army in February 1962 and was honorably discharged in 1964.