Thousands Show Up To Mourn A Departed Veteran

Late last week it appeared as if a 90-year-old veteran of the Korean War would be buried without anyone to say goodbye. Then the word got out, and thousands of people responded.

For my final post on Memorial Day, we’ve got some good news. Hezekiah Perkins was a 90-year-old veteran of the Korean War who passed away earlier this month. Last week, it was reported that Perkins’ family resided outside the area and, for whatever reason, could not attend the funeral for health reasons, thus raising the possibility that Perkins would be buried on Saturday without anyone there other than cemetery employees and perhaps military honor guard to mark his passing.

The cemetery where Perkins was to be buried posted about this on their Facebook page:

Tomorrow afternoon at 3P Veteran Hezekiah Perkins will be buried in Section 137 Lot 318 Space 1. Mr. Perkins…

Posted by Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum on Friday, May 24, 2019

Perkins’ story received a lot of coverage in the local Cincinnati, Ohio media as well as national media such as CNN:

Thousands of people, some of whom drove hundreds of miles, packed the funeral of a Korean War veteran they’d never met when they heard his family couldn’t come.

Hezekiah Perkins had prepared for the funeral more than 20 years ago. He’d prepaid for the ceremony and the burial, the funeral home said on its Facebook page.

But when the day finally came this week, Perkins’ relatives couldn’t make the trip to Cincinnati, Ohio, because of health issues.

So, Spring Grove Funeral Home put out a plea to the community. The funeral home asked them to come fill the chairs to honor the legacy of a man who fought for the US Army in the Korean War in the 1950’s.

“We had no idea what the response was going to be,” said the funeral home’s Director of Operations Skip Phelps.

On Saturday thousands of people showed up to pay their respects. Phelps said some drove hundreds of miles to be in attendance, including one couple from Mississippi.

Soldiers from Fort Knox were at the service to perform a flag ceremony. The staff acted as pallbearers and the funeral director, Lynay Straughn, received the flag on behalf of the family.

Perkins was honored by a full military processional with hundreds of cars led by motorcycles, a bugle player playing TAPS, bagpipers playing “Amazing Grace,” and veterans in full military uniforms, according to Phelps.

Perkins’ daughter was able to see the service via Facetime.

Phelps said up to two hours after the service was over people were still coming to pay their respects. “It was truly amazing,” Phelps said.

“Cincinnati came out and showed their respect for their veterans.”

CNN’s Jake Tapper, who often posts about fallen soldiers and members of the military and has written a book about a combat unit fighting in Afghanistan, brought the matter to the attention of his followers Twitter:

And Jazz Shaw at Hot Air also posted about the story:

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and I know most people probably have plans to kick off the unofficial start to summer with a barbeque or other festivities, but isn’t it a fitting time to show up and send off someone who gave so much for our nation? (This Google Maps key can be used/sent for people to obtain directions to the cemetery. It’s Section 137, Lot 318, Space 1.)

I’m happy to say that all the attention paid off, and Mr. Perkins did not leave this world alone:

Thousands of strangers attended a funeral Saturday for a 90-year-old veteran after learning no family could attend.

Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio, posted on Friday asking people to come to the funeral for Korean War veteran Hezekiah Perkins.
“Mr. Perkins prearranged and prepaid his funeral and burial over 20 years, however, all of his family is currently residing out of town,” the cemetery staff wrote on Friday. “We are asking any members of our community who are available to attend his burial tomorrow.”

On Saturday, the cemetery said hundreds of people came to Perkins’ funeral.

“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’s page posted after the service.

“Thank you to everyone who helped share this story on Facebook and in the media.”

The cemetery posted about the event on its Facebook page:

Thank you to the thousands of patriotic citizens who came to pay tribute to Veteran Perkins today. We are humbled by…

Posted by Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum on Saturday, May 25, 2019

Thank you for your service, Mr. Perkins. And Rest In Peace.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. Tyrell says:

    This is the kind of news that most of the main stream news ignores. We need to hear more good news stories.