Iowans will gather on a quiet hillside Monday to honor an 81-year-old veteran they never knew.
Marty Mitchell, of the Mitchell Family Funeral Home, made a Facebook request Wednesday for Iowans to help honor the life of Charles Lanam.
"Prior to him coming here, he was homeless,” said Mitchell. “No family. No nothing.”
Mitchell wrote: “I'm sitting in my office right now and contemplating the rest of the week- and really struggling with one thing that I would like to open up and share with all of you- and no, not a joke, something real.
"On Monday, we are going to bury a man who served our country honorably, and probably before many of us were born. He has no family - absolutely no family, so our staff and the chaplain from IVH (Iowa Veterans Home) will gather on a quiet hillside at IVH and put this man to rest.
"No pallbearers, no mourners, no flowers, no one to even present a flag to saying his service was recognized. If you so desire and it's in your hearts, we are having a service at 1:30 p.m. at the cemetery at IVH.
"Even though you did not know him, this man Charles Lanam, you are welcome to come and honor his life or serve as a pallbearer or even as important, send your prayers. Death equalizes us in the end, but before that time, appreciate that you do have a family. God bless you all my friends!”
Thanks to the post, about 60 Patriot Riders, as well as veterans from groups including the VFW and American Legion, will gather to give Lanam full military honors.
“Veterans deserve recognition, and we’re here to do that,” said Patriot Guard rider Jim Clark.
"Anybody that doesn’t have a family ought to be honored, I think,” said Kevin Briggs of Marshalltown.
A suit was donated for Lanam to be buried in, and complete strangers will gather to give the once-homeless veteran the funeral he deserves.
"Even in life he was a quiet man, but in death he made an impact showing what we can do for our vets,” said Mitchell.
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