MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - People like to remember veterans.
Statues and plaques will be displayed, with names of those who died while serving their country.
Real life is a lot tougher.
The hearse is taking 77-year-old Aubrey Laney to the West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.
He was a Coast Guard veteran who was homeless, and when he died in May, nobody came to claim his body.
The members of the Patriot Guard wouldn't allow Aubrey Laney's body to be covered with dirt in an unmarked grave with nobody paying their respects. "We're all brothers and sisters," Vietnam Veteran Val Pereira said, "... and these escorts and honors are missions for them."
The Patriot Guard members are a group of veterans who ride motorcycles and pay resects to veterans and police and others. This is their mission now.
They make sure that people like Aubrey Laney receive honors and dignity in death, two things often missing from his final years.
Petty Officer 3rd class Reid Kozloski of the Coast Guard was part of Laney's honor guard. "Every veteran," he said, "is entitled to a service such as this. Especially at the Veterans Ceremony here at a Veterans Cemetery
None of these people knew him personally.
Maybe they saw Aubrey Laney wander the streets of this city every now and then.
Chances are they didn't pay much attention. He was homeless, he was invisible.
A veteran who came home to nothing but being pushed away, scorn, maybe if he was lucky, somebody would toss a dollar his way.
"These are people who decided to serve the country," Seth Tino of the Patriot Guard said, "... when they didn't have to. for this guy to do what he had to do, it's only fitting that we could do what we did today, and that was to show up for him."
Aubrey Laney, a veteran, experienced something during this service that he hadn't experienced in years.
Aubrey Laney was buried with honor and dignity, surrounded by people who refused to let somebody who served this country die alone.
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