Community steps in for funeral of veteran with no local family

'He's one of our brothers'

By Josh Bazan
CNN image

(WCPO) - Cincinnati, OH -- Hezekiah Perkins, a Korean War veteran, arranged his own burial at Spring Grove Cemetery.

With no family in the area, the somber event looked to be a lonely affair until the Tri-State community stepped in.

"When we saw that this gentleman served and was going to be buried alone, we couldn't let that happen," said Patricia Buschmann, with the American Legion Post 630 in Blue Ash. "He's one of our brothers and we had to be here."

It was a sight to behold.

Hundreds of strangers from across the Tri-State lined the pathway at Spring Grove on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, all to pay their respects to a veteran they'd never met.

"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.

Strangers and mourners who knew Perkins personally stood together to see Perkins off. Antonette Williams, who worked at the nursing home Perkins lived in said the veteran was a loving, caring person who always smiled.

"Always respectful," she said. "Loved his Army fatigue pants and his shirt. Loved it."

Perkins was born in 1929. He had arranged and prepaid for his burial more than 20 years ago. The Baxter Vault Company decided to upgrade Perkins' burial vault, a cemetery official said.

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