Lemont VFW Man Honors Homeless Veterans at Burials
Gary Paul and his fellow volunteers are part of the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery’s Memorial Squad, who hold quarterly ceremonies for buried homeless vets.
For the about 250 homeless veterans buried each year at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Lemont VFW member Gary Paul and the rest of the cemetery’s Memorial Squad volunteer to ensure that they are given proper honors, the Suburban Life reports.
According to the paper, four times a year Paul and the squad give a full ceremony, with 21-shot salute, for the 60-70 or so homeless vets buried there in the past three months, who might otherwise go with their service to their country unrecognized.
“It’s a really moving ceremony,” Paul told the paper. “It’s an honor, I think, for every one of us to be able to do that. I guess it’s like paying it forward for me… When you look at the headstones, you know freedom is not free.”
According to the Center for American Progress, one in seven homeless people are veterans; there are an estimated 1.5 million veterans nationwide who are either homeless or “at imminent risk of homelessness.”