NILES, Mich. – A Michigan funeral director opened services for a Vietnam veteran to the public after learning the man had no known living relatives, and no one could have predicted the turnout.
An estimated 3,000 people honored 67-year-old Wayne Wilson when he was laid to rest Wednesday in Niles, WSBT reported.
The funeral home had released a statement calling Wilson a “heroic soldier” and “the first person at Silverbrook Cemetery for the annual Memorial Day Parade.”
“All are encouraged to attend and help celebrate his wonderful legacy,” the statement read.
Officials expected only a handful of people would show up, but word spread, and so did the support.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet him in life,” Karla Dennis said. “So many deserve this. I guess it’s not just for him. It made me think how many others are out there that aren’t being remembered, maybe, at funeral services.”
“During the Vietnam era, when he was alive, people spit on us,” Army veteran John Tengelitsch said. “They didn’t like us, so most the time you walked around without your uniform. Now, the table is turning. Now, they are realizing what we went through.”