Dozens gather to honor homeless vet | News
CANTON, Ga - More than 100 people gathered at Georgia National Cemetery to honor an Army veteran who died without family or money.
50-year-old Wendall Daughty was nearly sent to a pauper's grave. He died penniless with no family to arrange his funeral.
An organization dedicated to restoring dignity to homeless veterans helped arrange a full military burial.
"Nobody should leave alone on this last mission," said George Westbrook of the Patriot Guard Riders.
Every year, homeless veterans die without notice. Wendall Daughty easily could have been one of those.
Instead, his life of service caught the attention of people who wanted to prove homelessness and poverty don't erase years of military duty.
"He's not going home by himself," said Jan Johnson of the Gold Star Mothers. "By doing this we know he's being remembered finally."
There was no wife or children to hold Wendall Daughty's hand during his final days. He revealed very little to those who did surround him about his tumble into destitution or even the illness that would take his life.
"Although he was frail he always smiled," said Joyce Grace, who met Daughty at Providence Baptist Church in College Park. "He did not complain. He was a brave soldier and we were proud to know him."
Before he became one of this nation's 150-thousand homeless veterans, Wendall Daughty served as an Army medic. While living out his final days in hospice care, he spoke of his love for the military.
"Wendall didn't have much to call his own," said Larry Roberts, who presided over Daughty's funeral. "The one thing he did have was the U.S. Army, and that was everything to him."
When H.M. Patterson and Son funeral home learned of Daughty's situation, they stepped in to rescue the veteran from an unfitting end. The funeral home is part of the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program, and arranged for a casket and burial at Georgia National Cemetery.
Among those attending Daughty's funeral was Jan Johnson. Daughty's service fell on the eight year anniversary of her son's death. Justin Johnson lost his life in the Iraq war.
"It's kind of hard but at the same time I'm paying respect to Justin and his memory by being here for this soldier that has no family," said Johnson.
His fellow veterans served as his family, as well as those who wanted to make sure Daughty would be buried with dignity.
A burial plot surrounded by others who served is now home to a homeless vet.