It can seem like America has become hard and cynical, especially as this contentious election heat up. But every now and then we show flashes of our true nature, and it’s wonderful.
Earlier this month some 200 strangers showed up at the funeral of a World War II Navy veteran, thanks to the efforts of one very determined Army Major.
“In the military we don’t serve alone, therefore, we should not die alone,” said Major Jaspen Boothe.
Boothe was invited to attend the funeral of veteran Serina Vine by a staffer at Quantico National Cemetery, outside Washington, DC who told her Vine had no family. Instead of just agreeing to attend the burial, Boothe posted information about Vine’s funeral on several veterans-related websites and urged people to attend.
Boothe thought maybe 20 or 30 people might show up. Much to her surprise there were 200 mourners on hand to honor Vine, who died at age 91 in a VA Community Living Center.
Details of Vine’s life are scarce. She served in the Navy from 1944 to 1946 and later attended the University of California, Berkeley. Staffers at the VA home said she spoke three languages, danced and attended church regularly. She was found wandering the street of Washington, DC with dementia in 1995 and was admitted to the VA facility.
Boothe could relate to Vine’s story. Boothe and her son lost their home in Hurricane Katrina just as she was about to be deployed to Iraq. She later got cancer and was forced from active duty. She is now heads up a nonprofit called FinalSalute that helps homeless female vets.
I love this story. Major Boothe is an inspiration, as are the people who showed up to honor Serina Vine’s service. I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it: We owe our veterans SO much, especially in this age of the volunteer military.
Saying “Thank you for your service” is not enough. We need to pay our debt to them in full – with interest.
Photo Via Flickr