We all know that we should respect and support our troops.
But all too often, the men and women that have worked and risked their lives to keep our country safe are forgotten. Too many become homeless due to a lack of access to what they need to thrive. Countless others are simply left behind when their friends and family die.
That’s what happened to Thomas Hunter. He recently died at 93 years of age. As a World War II veteran, he had done what most could never even imagine. He participated in the D-Day invasion, which means he played an essential role in the success of the Allies during the war.
However, this man who should be given so much recognition had few people left to pay their respects.
He never married, and though he had 11 siblings, he outlived them all. The only family he had left were nieces.
That left him without any pallbearers for his funeral.
In military funerals, it is especially important to have pallbearers to carry the casket. This duty is usually performed by male relatives of the deceased. However, in Hunter’s situation, that wasn’t possible, as he had no surviving male relatives.
Lyn Bankston, the local high school football coach, was asked by the funeral director, Bryan Price, to pick out a few students who could help. Immediately, Bankston thought of six of his players: Lee Estay, Matthew Harrell, Justin Lawson, Brett Jurek, Christian Evans, and T.J. Homan. He said that these students exemplified everything that Hunter had fought for when he was in the military. He told The Town Talk:
“These are all young men who are leaders in our program and in our community. They know the sacrifice Mr. Hunter made, and it meant something to them.”
These young men were all football players, so they asked their coach if it would be appropriate for them to wear their uniforms.
Usually, other members of the military will wear their formal attire when they are serving as pallbearers. While these young men did not have any sort of military uniform to wear, they did their best to honor Mr. Hunter by wearing their football uniforms.
While everybody was exceptionally proud of the young men who participated, nobody realized that the event would get quite as much press coverage and media attention as it has. In fact, word spread so far that United States Rep. Ralph Abraham even talked about it during a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives. He told the room:
“They didn’t know this man, but they knew that every veteran deserves to die with dignity and be honored for the sacrifices he made in defense of this nation. I think the actions of these young men speak volumes about what’s truly important – country, community, family, God.”
The players and their coach clearly made an impact when they decided to dedicate their time to serving a former member of our military.
While it’s impossible to truly show veterans the thanks they deserve, these boys’ actions come close to expressing how much gratitude American citizens should have for the soldiers who have fought to keep them safe. Hopefully, these boys’ actions will help show other veterans that they are appreciated and that communities around the United States are incredibly grateful for everything they have done to keep American citizens safe.
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