SARASOTA, Fla. - Members of the public are invited to attend the Sarasota funeral of a veteran with no immediate family.
Edward K. Pearson, from Naples, Florida, passed away last month at the age of 80.
The veteran has no immediate family to attend the burial, according to the funeral home, so the public is invited to attend.
"I’ve always had a soft spot for servicemen and women because I feel I’m very privileged to live in this country," said Cathy Strammer.
Strammer never knew Pearson, but she reflects on his service.
"I really really appreciate what he did for his country. He did not know me when he served his country and I don’t know him," she said Monday afternoon.
Strammer will be at Pearson's service, which will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 1.
The interment, with military honors, will take place at the Sarasota National Cemetery, located at 9810 State Road 72.
Thousands have shared Pearson's story through social media.
"It kind of went crazy all at once," said Michael Hoyt, the funeral director of Legacy Options in Naples
Hoyt posted Pearson's obituary. The line, "This veteran has no immediate family. All are welcome to attend," has captured the attention of the nation.
"We wanted to get the message out to the community to let people know that," said Hoyt.
Only two people planned to attend the service for Pearson; Hoyt and another veteran. Now, hundreds of strangers may gather to say a final farewell.
"We do have things set in place to accommodate parking and the overflow of people who show up," said Ed Lyons.
Ed Lyons, III, a veteran and the assistant director of Sarasota National Cemetery said they work to make sure no veteran is ever forgotten.
"It's what we do. It’s what these veterans deserve. It’s what this veteran deserves," said Lyons.
Edward Pearson, an Army veteran who served from 1962 to 1964, will be no different.
"It tugs at your heart because the things that veterans do for our country, what they sacrifice. You don’t want to think of anyone being alone or laid to rest without anyone being there to honor them," said Lyons.