Over one thousand residents turned up at the funeral of an Indianapolis veteran who had no remaining family to give him a dignified send off.
U.S. Marine Corp veteran Billy C. Aldridge passed away at the age of 80 on October 14 at an Indianapolis nursing home. The facility, though, had no next of kin on file and announced that the veteran had died without any family to attend a funeral or take in his belongings.
Mr. Aldridge, who was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1956 after a four-year enlistment, lived in Indianapolis, having moved there to care for his aging mother who died in 1997.
Many of those who attended the service at Lawrence United Methodist Church on November 17 didn’t know Mr. Aldridge, but church pastor Joe Johnson told those in attendance, “You are his family. Thank you.”
The service had originally been planned as a small affair just to honor the lonely veteran, but soon the community responded in a big way.
“What started out as small internal service for a forgotten individual turned into a public affirmation I think not only of his life, but every life,” Bruce Buchanan of Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Centers told the media.
Eddie Beagles, of Legacy Cremation and Funeral Services, also volunteered to honor the deceased veteran. “When we found out Mr. Aldridge was a veteran, we just felt we had to give him a proper and dignified burial,” he said.
It was Beagles who made the call for the community to attend the veteran’s funeral earlier this month.
City police also chipped in donating their services as a police escort from the church to the burial site.
Aldridge was buried with full military honors in a donated burial site at Memorial Park Cemetery.
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