[Hpn] Homeless Vets Get Honored In Death

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Wed, 26 May 2004 20:19:26 -0400


www.DallasNews.com

Program gives homeless vets full military burial

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

By BILL BROWN / WFAA-TV

Three North Texas veterans who led troubled lives are, at last, being
honored in death with a final tribute from people who never knew them.

Thanks to the Homeless Veterans Burial Program, these veterans who died
homeless are being laid to rest alongside other vets in the D/FW National
Cemetery. The caskets and hearses are donated by a funeral home, veteran
volunteers are the honor guard and other homeless men are the pallbearers.

The first service Wednesday was for James Platter, from East Texas, who
served in the Army.

 Next to be honored was Navy veteran Dale Kidwell. It was said he has
relatives somewhere in Missouri, but none showed up.

Marian Francis said her church took Kidwell in and helped him. She and other
church members wanted to be present to honor him.

"He was a man who gave his heart to people in need," Francis said. "He was a
very, very good man."
Last to receive full military honors was Ray Junia Day, age 79. Day served
in the Navy; he lived - and died - in his car. One relative, a cousin, came
to the service.

"I haven't seen him in 52 years," said that cousin, James Day. "I remember
us in our early stages of life, but then I lost track of him. I think he
felt he had turned his back on the world, or the world had turned its back
on him."

If not for the kindness of all these strangers, all three veterans likely
would have been buried in paupers' graves.
"They are homeless, but they're veterans and they deserve to be buried out
here with the rest of us - not at a county cemetery," said Ken Watterson of
the United States Marine Corps League.

Through the program, more than 250 homeless veterans have received special
burial honors nationwide. Nine have been laid to rest in the National
Cemetery in Dallas.


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