Funeral held for 18 veterans, 1 spouse whose remains went unclaimed

MARION, Ind. – A special ceremony was held to honor 18 veterans and one military spouse, whose remains were never claimed.

The remains left Indianapolis Wednesday morning, making a quick stop through Gas City on their way to Marion National Cemetery.

Dozens of people who didn’t know anyone being laid to rest made their way to Marion out of the kindness of their heart.

"Our focus is to give them the most dignified burial that we can,” said the Assistant Director of the Marion National Cemetery Thomas Kulich.

Of those who were being laid to rest, some have been waiting for months since their deaths. For others, it's been years, in one case, more than 10 years.

"At one point we had met with family members of a guardian of these veterans, and then they either just didn't want the remains, didn't know what to do with the remains, or just weren't ready to take them home yet,” said Melissa Dawson, Funeral Director for Indiana Funeral Care

So today, in front of a crowd of mostly strangers, each name was read aloud, along with a short biography.

"If you don’t personalize it and let them know who these people were, it’s just not as meaningful,” Kulich said.

For those in attendance and those planning the funeral, it doesn't matter why these remains were unclaimed.

What matters is that 18 names are heard, 18 flags presented, and 18 veterans remembered.

A wife of one of the veterans was able to come and present a flag. The others simply came to support and honor the unclaimed veterans.