On Friday, a group of Americans came together at Middle Tennessee Veterans Cemetery, proving that the love and appreciation for our men and women in uniform is undying and unwavering.
Just days before he passed away, barely anyone knew of 69-year-old Marine Corps Sgt. Leo Stokley, who had no remaining biological family members. Liftable reports that “A local funeral director set up burial arrangements for the veteran, expecting a very small number of people — if anyone — to attend his funeral. But two days before the scheduled service, people began calling the funeral home, saying they would be there to honor Stokley.”
People began learning of the veteran, whose body went unclaimed, after a Facebook group called U.S. Army WTF moments made a post, calling for good samaritans to come see the hero off, so he would not be buried alone.
“Yesterday morning, everything changed,” Funeral Director Alan Desmond explained to WKRN. “The phone hasn’t stopped ringing, the emails and the texts haven’t stopped since then.”
When Friday rolled around and it was time for the funeral, a large crowd made their way to support the American hero. Liftable reports that among those at the funeral were the three women who had spent time being as Stokley’s caregivers during his final stage of life.
Tea Gray, Cay Cross and Samantha Anderson explained that they feel themselves to be Stokley’s family.
They were touched that so many people came to show their respects to the man they had cared for.
“He was one of our sweet eaters who always wanted chocolate chess pie,” Gray said to WSMV.
Nashville resident Kay-Lynn Carew also attended the funeral. She explained that she had heard about it from her daughter.
“She knows I live here, I work here,” stated Carew. “She said can you show up, I said heck yeah I can show up.”
“When you hear about a veteran, and nobody’s gonna be there, somebody’s gotta be there,” Carew said. “Lots of people forget, there’s a lot of veterans that don’t have any families left. We’re all the family, we’re Americans, we’re the family.”
Cross explained that Stokley would have been touched to see the group of supporters at Middle Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.
“I can say we were his family,” stated Gray. “He became our family.”