If this story were to happen in the bigger cities no one would blink an eye. However, for it to happen right here in Wise County, right under our collective noses, is shocking, scary, infuriating and downright disgraceful. Do I have your attention yet?
In June 2011, a United States Marine with more than nine-and-a-half years of honorable service passed away. That should be the end of the story; a final salute from those he left behind and a welcome home, good and faithful Marine, as TAPS was played for this fallen hero. But, the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey used to say, will make you question the power of the almighty dollar and the lack of respect for those who have served this county.
It has come to my attention that this Marine has sat, alone, forgotten and unclaimed in a local funeral home since his death. He had no family to claim his remains and no one knew he was not given a proper military burial. There is a place for him at the National Cemetery in Dallas, but until the balance of his cremation is paid he will continue to be a forgotten urn on a shelf.
Has it really come down to this, that our small town where everyone knows everyone, can tuck their children in bed at night and crawl into their protective coverings while a hero who gave almost 10 years of his life must remain unclaimed, unwanted and at the mercy of a bill that no one knew needed to be paid?
Not a phone call to the county, or to the veterans’ organizations, or to the Veterans Service Office asking for donations to pay the balance. Nothing! To date; the balance remains unpaid. The funeral home has not forgiven the balance, and one of Wise County’s own heroes continues to sit on a shelf waiting for someone to pay his way Home.
Wise County Veterans Council