At Middle Tennessee Veterans Cemetery on Nov. 9, Americans confirmed that appreciation and reverence for our country's military veterans runs very deep.
At the beginning of the week, hardly anyone knew of Marine Corps Sgt. Leo Stokley. The 69-year-old Vietnam veteran passed on, leaving behind no biological family.
A community funeral director set up burial arrangements for the veteran, expecting a very small amount of people-- if anyone-- to attend his funeral.
But two days before the scheduled service, a lot of people started phoning the funeral home, claiming they would be there to commend Stokley.
The word pertaining to the unclaimed veteran spread after Facebook group U.S. Army WTF moments published a need attendance online, requesting individuals to guarantee that the hero would not be buried alone.
Tea Gray, Cay Cross and Samantha Anderson think of themselves as being Stokley's family.
They were wowed that so many strangers came to his funeral, putting in the time laughing and reminiscing about the marine they really loved like family.
" He was one of our charming eaters who always wanted chocolate chess pie," Gray told WSMV.
Nashville local Kay-Lynn Carew was also one of the guests, mentioning she found out about the gathering from her daughter.
" She knows I live here, I work here," said Carew. "She said can you come, I said heck yeah I can turn up."
On Friday, Carew ended up being an honorary member of Stokley's family, as well.
" When you hear about a veteran, and nobody's gon na be there, somebody's got ta attend," Carew said.
" Lots of people forget, there's a ton of veterans that don't have any relatives left. We're all the family, we're Americans, we're the family."
Cross said that Stokley would definitely have appreciated seeing the wave of supporters at Middle Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.
" I can claim we were his family," said Gray. "He came to be our family."