American veteran Joseph Walker was 72 when he died in November of natural causes. The Central Texas Tate Veterans Cemetery said he had no family or loved ones and Mr. Walker was classified as an “unaccompanied veteran.”’
Mr. Walker joined the U.S. Air Force when he was 18. It looked as though he was going to be buried without anyone in attendance. NPR reports: that all changed on Monday.
News spread on social media and mainstream media asking for people to come so Mr. Walker didn’t have to be buried alone. People of all ages and colors, with fashions ranging from suits to jeans to motorcycle helmets, showed up.
And here is a tweet from Monday morning:
Killeen, Texas: A line of cars stretching for miles to attend the funeral of an Air Force Veteran with no family.. after fears he would be buried with no one attending. pic.twitter.com/IC5z7IlDjh
— Janet Shamlian (@JanetShamlian) January 28, 2019
It was estimated that over 1000 people came to the funeral. They had never met Mr. Walker and it didn’t matter. They wanted to honor this American veteran who risked his life to protect their lives and their freedom.
The crowd extended far beyond the plaza’s rows of folding chairs, out onto the pavement where dozens of rows of people stood quietly in the sunshine. Photos showed that the road leading into the cemetery was clogged with vehicles bearing people who wanted to be there for Walker.
Marc George of the Christian Motorcyclists Association who officiated the funeral said,
“Today, we give him honors,” George said, before leading a prayer in remembrance of Walker — a man whom no one apparently knew, but whom no one wanted to forget…once upon a time, like a lot of us other vets, he signed a blank check for our nation.”
Mr. Walker served in Vietnam from September 10, 1964 to September 9, 1968 leaving with an honorable discharge. His rank is unknown.
Monday’s military ceremony for Walker ended with a representative from the Veterans Land Board accepting the folded flag that was used during the service. It will be held at the cemetery for 90 days; if no family or next of kin comes forward, it will be flown from the cemetery’s main flagpole.
Beautiful on so many levels, this is the essence of our human spirit. Rest In Peace, Joseph Walker.