Hundreds gather at the funeral of a veteran in heartwarming gesture, after fears no-one would attend
More than 1,000 strangers showed up to the funeral of Air Force veteran this week, after learning that his service was to be sparsely attended.
Joseph Walker, who was born in 1946 and served in the Vietnam war, was laid to rest at the All Faiths Funeral Service in Austin, Texas. However, before he was buried, Walker's family allegedly expressed concern about the financial cost of the services. The funeral home kept his body for a number of days, but then could reportedly no longer contact his relatives.
After an appeal was launched on social media, hundreds of people who knew nothing about Walker, other than his military service, showed up to lay him to rest.
His obituary was short, a mere 92 words, reading: "Joseph Walker, age 72 of Dale, Texas was called by our heavenly father on Monday, November 19th, 2018. Mr Walker was a veteran serving in the U.S Air Force during the Vietnam war. Visitation services will be held on Friday, December 7, 2017, from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm at All Faiths Funeral Service, 8507 N. IH-35, Austin Texas.
"Funeral services will be held on Saturday, December 8th, 2018 at 11:00 am at All Faiths Funeral Chapel. Interment services with Air Force will be rendered on Monday, December 10th, 2018 at the Texas State Veterans Cemetery, Killeen Texas."
However, when the obituary was shared on Facebook by the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, as well as Senator Ted Cruz, things soon spiralled. The Cemetery captioned their post: "We have the distinct honour to provide a full military burial for unaccompanied United States Air Force Veteran Joseph Walker on MONDAY, JANUARY 28, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. at Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery. If you have the opportunity, please come out and attend. We do NOT leave Veterans behind 🇺🇸 [sic]" The post in question was then shared over 400 times.
When the ceremony began at 10 am, crowds of flag wavers crowded the service. In fact, so many people showed up that vehicles were backed up onto a nearby highway and lined up on the road in a long queue. Three rifle shots were fired as a show of respect and mourning, followed by a solemn horn, then two servicemembers draped a flag over Walker's coffin and folded it.
On social media, the reaction to the service was an emotional one. One Twitter user wrote: "This is something very special. As a 20 year vet, I always appreciate people coming together like this," while another added: "In the near 15 years I lived in and around Killeen, I’ve never seen this many people at the cemetery before. It was truly remarkable to see the respect and honour this gentleman received. Rest In Peace, sir. [sic]"
Rest in peace Mr Walker; the sacrifices you made for your country must never be forgotten.