Hezekiah Perkins recently died and was slated to be buried at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio. He had no relatives in the area and his daughter was too sick to travel for the funeral. Then locals stepped up.
The Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum made the call for people to attend the funeral on May 24, a day prior to the burial.
“Mr. Perkins prearranged and prepaid his funeral and burial over 20 years, however, all of his family is currently residing out of town. Mr. Perkins’ family has requested that their loved one is buried with Military Honors. Members of our Spring Grove family will act as pallbearers. We are asking any members of our community who are available to attend his burial,” the cemetery stated.
Some 400 people ended up attending the service.
“Thank you to the thousands of patriotic citizens who came to pay tribute to Veteran Perkins today. We are humbled by the turnout and so very proud of our Spring Grove Family and especially our community,” the cemetery said on Saturday night.
“When I got here and they told me this was for Hezekiah, I started crying,” William Weincam, a veteran who often visited Perkins at the nursing home he was residing in, told WLWT.
Gretchen Graves, a local, told the broadcaster that she was told that at least 400 cars were ahead of her when she arrived at the cemetery.
Perkins’ daughter was able to watch the funeral online.
“She is just in tears. She is so grateful and moved by the kindness and the love and support of the military family and everybody else that came out,” Lynay Straughn, funeral director for Spring Grove Cemetery, told Fox 19.
“It started out as a little bitty idea and it just mushroomed into hundreds of people,” Straughn added.
“When we saw that this gentleman served and was going to be buried alone, we couldn’t let that happen,” Patricia Buschmann, with the American Legion Post 630 in Blue Ash, told WCPO. “He’s one of our brothers and we had to be here.”
“Every human being deserves the dignity of having someone to see them off, and someone who has served has a lot of brothers and sisters, and they have come here to recognize him,” said Buschmann.
“We didn’t want him to have a sendoff with no one here so we just wanted to make sure he had a proper burial,” added Walter Simms, a local resident, to Fox 19.
“It being Memorial Day weekend it was the right thing to do to come up and honor his life,” added Suzanne Koehne, who drove from Louisville to attend.