BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Veterans who pass away while far from family or don’t have a relation with family members are often laid to rest alone or without a proper military burial.
But one local group is making sure that is never the case here in Kern County.
For those in attendance for the memorial, Tuesday represented the unity and respect there is within the military. One by one the names of the veterans were read.
The honor guard performed the rifle salute and trumpets briefly covered the sound of rain as military servicemen and women bowed their heads to pay their respects.
“It is just really an amazing thing to be able to stand in and say I am here for them. Just like we were for each other; we always had each other’s backs when we were in the military and now, we have their back this time as they lay to rest and being able to salute them with a proper military sendoff,” said Cindy Vanbibber Director, Bakersfield National Cemetery.
The American flag was folded and handed to Debby Duffel from the Bakersfield National Cemetery Support Committee who comes from a long line of military servicemen in her family. This was her first time being able to step in to receive the flag.
“The military as a whole is a family and to be able to be part of that family is very heartwarming,” said Duffel.
Combat veteran, Benjamin Palmer, is no stranger to these ceremonies, in fact, he has been attending as part of the honor guard for the past 15 years.
He said the circumstances as to why these veterans died with no one to claim them should not diminish their sacrifice.
“They are still veterans no matter what happens afterwards. They are still veterans, you know some had mental problems, some had financial problems, but it is good that they have family here. Even if it is no blood family, it is military family,” said Palmer.
Although capacity was limited due to COVID, those who would like to pay their respects are encouraged to bring wreaths to these graves.