100's Turn Out for Veteran’s Funeral to Honor His Service & They Never Even Knew him

Apr 2011
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DICKSON, Tenn. - Hundreds gathered for a somber celebration Monday morning to remember an American hero whose body and life has gone unclaimed.

“This is what is should be for every soldier we lose, whether it's a veteran or active duty,” said Annette Robeck.

Sky 5 captured the enormous turnout: the largest in recent memory at the Middle Tennessee State Veteran’s Cemetery. Service members, veterans and families showed up to pay respects to veteran Ronnie Toler.
But none of those in attendance actually knew Toler. Amazingly, they showed up for that exact reason.

The 66-year-old died with no one to claim him.

“It brings tears to your eyes the feeling of so many people coming together to honor someone they never met in their life before,” said Patriot Guard head rider Mary Anne Keough.

The State Veteran's Cemetery made a plot for him. And the Dickson Funeral home donated the burial supplies.

“These grounds are more than just a cemetery to us, they are a field of honor,” said the cemetery director.

Toler was put into the ground with full military honors.

“We may not have known him personally but he had brothers and sisters here in the armed services that took care of it,” Robeck said.

The idea of dying alone struck a chord for many, especially when talking about a man like Toler who served in the 70s and received the National Defense Service Medal.

“You don't ever leave a soldier behind,” said Robeck.

Not much was known about Toler other than what his service papers reveal.

But those who showed up for his funeral prayed for and saluted him. So a man, perhaps looked over in life, could be honored like a hero in death.

Unclaimed Veteran Honored By Hundreds At Burial - NewsChannel5.com