Bradley Parker, a 66-year-old veteran of the United States Navy, passed away earlier this month with no known family or friends beside him.
St. Joseph’s Church in Troy, New York, concerned that Parker would be buried with nobody around, sent out a call for help from the community.
“Thursday afternoon I received an email from our pastor telling me that a gentleman was going to be buried here through the Leahy funeral home and that he had no relatives, no friends, nobody to be there,” Reverand Paul Coffey told WRGB.
Coffey explained he sent the word out to “a handful of people.”
Response was Overwhelming
Over one hundred people showed up at the cemetery to pay their respects to Parker, who received full military honors.
Some brought flowers, others brought prayers, and the scene was peppered with individuals in military or first responder uniforms. All brought respect and admiration for a man who served his country.
“There was a color guard, 21 gun salute, flag folding, and they played Taps,” according to the report.
Even the news station’s Facebook post reveals the city’s sense of warmth toward each other as a result of the outpouring for Parker.
“Bradley Parker, 66, a Navy veteran recently passed away. We are told he has no family or friends to attend his services. A letter posted to facebook asked for those to come and pay respects,” they wrote. “Today we are his family and friends. Thank you for your service.”
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Something even more incredible came out of the response from the people of Troy. A distant relative had heard about Parker, and through the power of social media word eventually got back to the veteran’s sister, Sharron Nirsberger.
Sharron explained that her brother typically kept to himself and she may never have heard about his services if not for this touching community effort.
The Apple family heard about @USNavy veteran Brad Parker, 66, who was believed to have no family to bury him. Today #TroyNY turns out to honor him at St. Joseph Cemetery. His sister is here too. She found out of his passing last night at 6pm. @WNYT pic.twitter.com/L7ottoE5va
— John Craig (@JohnCraigWNYT) August 2, 2019
“It’s just beautiful, I thank all the veterans and everyone, the fire department, I just can’t even name them all,” Nirsberger said according to the local news station. “This is overwhelming, it’s overwhelming for me, and I thank you all, I really do from the bottom of my heart. He was a good guy, my brother.”
The scene was reminiscent of two years ago, when Glenn Shelton, a 68-year-old Marine and Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient, passed away under similar circumstances in Indiana. Hundreds attended his funeral.
Coffey summed it up best: “They took some time out of their lives to serve us, we can take an hour to honor them.”