Over 100 Strangers Gather to Honor Korean War Veteran Who Died With No Family
Charles Lanam was a Korean War veteran who'd never married, had no children and had outlived his family when he died at 81 on April 10.
Had the Mitchell Family Funeral Home not made a public plea, the veteran might have been laid to rest with no fanfair while he was buried at the Iowa Veteran's Home in Marshalltown on Monday.
That's not how it happened, thanks, in part, to a Facebook post written by Marty Mitchell.
"I'm sitting in my office right now and contemplating the rest of the week - and really struggling with one thing that I would like to open up and share with all of you," the funeral director wrote. "On Monday, we are going to bury a man who served our country honorably, and probably before many of us were born."
Mitchell explained that there was absolutely no one to honor Lanam then asked his friends to come to the ceremony.
"If you so desire and it's in your hearts, we are having a service at 1:30 p.m. at the cemetery at IVH," he wrote.
When veterans from the VFW and American Legion caught wind of Lanam's funeral, they organized a proper burial with full military honors.
On Monday, some 80 of the funeral attendees were veterans, according to KCCI. Members of the local Patriot Guard formed a barricade guiding volunteer pallbearers who carried the flag-draped casket.
Vince Frederick, who attended the ceremony with his fellow Knights of Columbus, said the ceremony was a sign that patriotism is alive and well.
"People say patriotism is dead. All you had to do was witness today and how the community came together to love one man," Frederick told KCCI.
According to his obituary, which Mitchell also shared to his Facebook, Lanam was born on September 16th, 1934, in Fairfield, Iowa. Throughout his life, he lived in both Tennessee and Iowa, and he served four years in the Korean War for the U.S. Navy.