AUGUSTA, Maine — Veteran Linnwood Ray was set to be buried in the Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Augusta without any friends or family present.
“He wanted something simple," funeral director Joseph Kiley said.
Kiley planned to hold a small service for Ray. But when he arrived, he was shocked to find more than 100 people in the cemetery ready to honor Ray's life
“I actually got a message from a fellow homeschool mom saying that this man didn’t have any family and it was compelling to me to come out and support him,” Alicia Lawson said. She said she brought her three sons to the service to teach them about freedom and the part veterans play in preserving it.
Mother and daughter Mary Ellen and Kat Pinkham arrived at the service expecting to see few others.
“I came expecting that perhaps Katie and I were going to be the only ones here, but what a blessing it was to see so many people here," Mary Ellen Pinkham said.
Kat Pinkham was just as surprised as her mother to see the turnout, sparked largely by social media.
“I am dumbfounded and speechless about the turnout for today," she said. "I thought I was going to be the only person that showed up, but never doubt the veteran community."
“He actually thought that he was leaving the face of this Earth alone and come to find out his brothers stood behind him and helped bury him," fellow veteran Warren Ard said.
Lawson hopes her sons picked up on that support from Ray’s fellow veterans.
“I just think it is really important to show our children the lifestyle that they live now is because of these people," she said. "Without their service we wouldn’t live in freedom now."