DIXON — Veterans’ remains that sat on a shelf for decades — unclaimed by family members — got the proper burial they deserve.
Behind every name is a story that almost went untold.
“Sad because so many of these veterans were forgotten for over six decades some of them,” Paul Reyes, American Legion, Post 637, said.
The remains include veterans from World War I, Vietnam and Korea; all of them were killed in the line of duty.
“The task that we do is to go into mortuaries and try to find and identify any veterans that are remaining on the shelf that no one has came and removed,” Sonoma Co. Veterans Remains Officer Ronald Collier explained.
Collier went through 1600 remains from a Sonoma County Mortuary.
“I’ve been working on this for three years. We can follow a history through the computer system and social networks and find out when they served, where they served and that’s the important part,” Collier said.
They identified more than 30 veterans to bury, with honors, at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery, surrounded by their brothers and sisters in arms.
“It doesn’t matter that we didn’t know them. It doesn’t matter that they didn’t have family,” Reyes said. “They now do. Everyone that you saw here is now their family.”
This serves as a final salute to the men and women who sacrificed everything for our country.
“You’re given the opportunity to live in the freest country in the world thanks to them. Not anyone else. Not the teachers, not the politicians. It’s this that signed their name on the dotted line,” Reyes said.
The work to identify veterans’ remains is far from over. It’s a long and tedious task but volunteers say it’s well worth it, to honor these veterans.